Standing 34m high and weighing 22,000 tons, the British navy’s Her Majesty’s Ship OCEAN was an unexpected change to the skyline of Beirut port this weekend. HMS OCEAN Commanding Officer Captain Pedre, British Ambassador Hugo Shorter, and Defense attaché Chris Gunning met Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji and Minister of Defense YaaqoubSarraf. Rear Admiral Burton met with LAF Navy Commander Admiral MajedAlwan.Shorter announced further support to the Lebanese army’s Rangers Regiment of further equipment to help build their ‘off road’ and ‘all-weather’ capabilities. He added that the essence of the UK’s approach is this: “protecting the co-existence at the heart of the Lebanese model requires a strong state”. Addressing his guests, Shorter said: “We are proud of our partnership with your country, through its institutions. And as a demonstration of our strong belief in the importance of Lebanese sovereignty, we have so far invested $100m in the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces since 2011”. “And I am pleased to announce the delivery of further equipment worth $65,000 for Lebanese Rangers of further equipment to help build their ‘off road’ and ‘all-weather’ capabilities”, he added.
In a demonstration of the strength of the enduring UK-Lebanon partnership, the Fleet flagship of the Royal Navy “HMS Ocean” arrived this morning at Beirut Seaport and docked at Pier 13, on a visit which will last till tomorrow afternoon. The visit concludes a Middle East deployment of HMS OCEAN, which has seen the warship work with a number of countries East of Suez as well as with other coalition partners, including USA, France and Australia, demonstrating commitment to the region. In a press release by the British Embassy in Beirut, it said: “In the months prior to arriving in Lebanon, HMS OCEAN has been the Flagship for Combined Task Force 50 (CTF50), a multi-national task force maintaining the free flow of trade, freedom of navigation for shipping and regional security in the Middle East. This was the first time that the UK had commanded CTF50 and the Task Force was led by Commodore Andrew Burns OBE Royal Navy, Commodore Amphibious Task Group”. In response to a question by the National News Agency (NNA) about the purpose of the visit, Captain Terry said: “It [the visit] comes to demonstrate the strength of friendship between the UK and Lebanon. We have military, diplomatic and economic relations and we want to strengthen these relations”.