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Libyan National Army takes delivery of ex-Irish OPV

21 May 2018
A still from a video released by the LNA shows Al-Karama arriving in Benghazi. The LNA claimed it is a Libyan vessel that has returned after seven years, but it is the ex-Irish OPV Aisling. Source: Libyan National Army – General Command

The Libyan National Army (LNA), which controls much of eastern Libya, welcomed a new flagship for its naval forces on 17 May when the ex-Irish offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Aisling arrived in the port of Benghazi.

The LNA released a video showing the vessel is now named Al-Karama (Dignity) after the operation that was launched to secure Benghazi four years earlier.

The LNA said the ship was a Libyan vessel that had been retrieved from an unidentified foreign country after seven years and that its arrival was a “qualitative leap for our naval fleet”. It added that the vessel would protect Libya’s territorial waters as well as counter terrorism and human trafficking.

The 65 m-long, 1,000 tonne P 21-class patrol vessel Aisling was commissioned in 1980 and armed with a 40 mm main gun, two 20 mm cannons, and two 7.62 mm machine guns. It was decommissioned in 2016 and sold for EUR110,000 at auction to the Dutch shipbroker Dick van der Kamp in March 2017. It was put up for sale again two months later with an asking price of USD750,000.

IHS Markit Maritime data shows that it was re-registered by Universal Satcom Services FZE, a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in April. Its AIS transponder began transmitting on 10 May when it was off southern Portugal sailing towards the Strait of Gibraltar.

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