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    Nisu članice NATO: Malta

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    Osprey

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    Nisu članice NATO: Malta

    Postaj by Osprey on ned pro 04, 2016 6:04 pm

    MALTA


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    Malta first joined the Partnership for Peace (PfP) in 1995. It suspended participation in 1996 but reactivated its PfP membership in April 2008. Malta recognises that it can help address emerging security challenges and contribute to international peace, security and stability through the PfP framework.

    Participation in the PfP programme is compatible with Malta’s commitment to the principle of neutrality. The country views it as an additional instrument that enhances European and Euro-Atlantic security.

    Malta shares the partnership values and principles of the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights, and the safeguarding of freedom, justice and peace through democracy.

    Malta has much to offer the Alliance as its partnership with NATO develops. The country has special expertise in international maritime law, diplomatic studies and search and rescue, as well as in Arabic culture and language training. It is prepared to offer short courses and seminars in these fields to other partner countries.


    Malta is a former British colony and base and likely still defended; probably it doesn't need a separate membership.

    Just to be remined: EU member states who are not part of the NATO include Austria, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden.

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    Osprey

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    Re: Nisu članice NATO: Malta

    Postaj by Osprey on ned pro 04, 2016 6:09 pm

    Pomorske snage Malte
    ili La Valletta - utočište domaćih i stranih pomorskih snaga


    Spletom sretnih okolnosti, do redakcije portala Obris.org stiglo je nekoliko zanimljivih fotografija s Malte. Njih je u petak, 2. prosinca, snimio naš suradnik tijekom posjete luci tamošnjeg glavnog grada Vallette. Inače, nije ni čudo da se na Malti vide brojne plovne jedinice iz iznimno širokoga kruga država, budući je to jedno od žarišta međunarodnih pomorskih aktivnosti na kontroli centralne rute migrantskoga vala preko Mediterana.

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    Francuski  F791 Commandant L'Herminier

    Kao prvo, tu se vidi francuski avizo F791  Commandant L’Herminier. Ovo je  po redu 11 plovilo iz klase A69 (D’Estienne d’Orves). On je 12. studenog pristigao u okvir europske operacije EU NAVFOR Med – SOFIA, u kojoj je zamijenio francuski brod F794 <em>Enseigne de vaisseau Jacoubet </em>– koji se nakon oko mjesec dana rada uz okviru operacije Sofia vratio u Toulon. Dok spomenuti francuski brodovi u operaciji EU NAVFOR Med – SOFIA sudjeluju pod zajedničkim europskim zapovjedništvom, na njima je dodatno ukrcano i odjeljenje francuskih marinaca, kao i specijalizirani tim za detektiranje eksploziva, što su vrijedni doprinosi EU naporima na kontroli prometa i provedbi embarga na promet oružjem prema Libiji uvedenog rezolucijom Vijeća sigurnosti UN (UNSC) broj 2292 (2016) 14. lipnja ove godine. Iz malteške luke Valletta francuski F791 isplovio je kasnije tijekom petka, napustivši vez Pinto 3 u tamošnjoj glavnoj luci, te nastavivši svoj rad u okviru misije EU NAVFOR Med – SOFIA.

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    Francuski avizo F791 Commandant L’Herminier na vezu u Valletti


    Malta – domaći brodovi



    Uz to, nedaleko su na vezu bila i plovila domaćih, malteških pomorskih snaga – van “Velike luke”, na vojnome dijelu zvanom “Žitna obala” (“Hay Wharf” ili malteški “Xatt it-Tiben”), smještenom u mjestu Floriana, duž sjeverozapadne obale poluotoka na čijem je vrhu stari centar Vallette.
    Kao prvo, tu su dva glavna malteška plovila"
    – ophodni brodovi P61 (talijanske gradnje) i
    - P62 (plovilo donirano iz Irske) koji čine glavninu malteških pomorskih snaga,
    kao i nekoliko malih namjenskih patrolnih brodica.

    Ophodni brod P61


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    Patrolno plovilo P61 izgrađeno je u Italiji, u brodogradilištu Fincantieri S.p.A, temeljem ugovora potpisanog u ožujku 2004. godine i financiranja u okviru 5. italo-malteškog protokola (17 milijuna eura za plovilo, obuku i logističku potporu). Novo plovilo je bilo građeno temeljem talijanskog projekta “Diciotti” (modificirana klasa “Saettia”), gdje je plovilima kakva su bila u službi talijanske Obalne straže dodana još i paluba za helikopter srednje veličine, te krmena rampa za lansiranje gumenih brodica (RHIB) dužine do 7 metara. Ove su modifikacije podigle deplasman plovila na oko 400 tona, i smanjile standardnu posadu na maksimalno 25 ljudi.

    Pri tome, 53,4 metra dugi P61 može bez dopune goriva patrolirati oko 2.100 nautičkih milja (oko 3.890 km), brzinom od oko 16 čvorova (oko 30 km/h), uz rad moguć maksimalno uz stanje mora 5.
    Takav ophodni brod P61 u maltešku je službu bio primljen 1. listopada 2005., da bi postao operativan 5. studenog 2005. godine – te je tijekom idućih 10 godina i aktivno rabljen.

    Prema malteškim izvorima, krajem 2015. godine na ovom se plovilu pojavila neodgodiva potreba velikog remonta porivnih strojeva (dva Isotta Fraschini motora V1716 T2 MSD), čiju se cijenu krajem prošle godine procjenjivalo na oko 7 milijuna eura, i koju se uvrstilo i na listu kapitalnih projekata malteških Oružanih snaga – za koje se opet nastoji dobiti i određenu pomoć iz EU fondova. Upravo P61 služi kao načelno mjerilo za novi ophodni brod kojeg Malta planira pribaviti do kraja 2017. godine, i za kojeg se planira odvojiti oko 40 milijuna eura (sufinancirano iz EU Internal Security Fund sredstava).

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    Malteška izvanobalna ophodna plovila P61 i P62 na vezu u vojnoj luci kod Vallette


    Ophodni brod P62


    Kao drugo, tu je patrolno plovilo P62 – najveći brod iznimno malog Pomorskog odreda malteških Oružanih snaga. Budući da Malta tek promišlja gradnju vlastite klase ozbiljnih izvanobalnih ophodnih brodova. Današnji P62 tu je tek prijelazno rješenje, kao bivše irsko plovilo LÉ Aoife (P22) otpisano u Irskoj 31. siječnja 2015. godine, te donirano Malti (gdje je 28. lipnja 2015. i primljeno u novu službu, da bi 28. studenog 2015. pristiglo na Maltu).

    Ovo je plovilo početkom 2016. godine u praksi zamijenilo dotadašnji glavni malteški vojni ophodni brod P61, i služi kao svojevrsna premosnica do pristizanja novog malteškog ophodnoga broda.

    Općenito, ophodni brod LÉ Aoife (P22) bio je drugo plovilo irske klase Emer, građeno u brodogradilištu Verolme Cork Dockyard, a temeljem iskustava prikupljenih korištenjem sličnoga broda LÉ <i>Deirdre</i> (P20), građenog 1971. i primljenog u službu 1972. godine. Sam LÉ <i>Aoife</i> (P22) bio je prvo irsko plovilo financirano europskim sredstvima dostupnima nakon proširenja opsega irske ekskluzivne ribarske zone s dotadašnjih 12 na 200 nautičkih milja 1976. godine. Kobilica ovog broda maksimalne istisnine 1,019 tona i dužine 65.2 m bila je položena početkom srpnja 1978. godine, porinut je bio 12. travnja 1979., a u irsku službu je primljen 29. studenog 1979. godine. Nakon 35 godina radnog staža u Irskoj, pretežito na poslovima kontrole ribarstva, negdašnji irski P22 (sada malteški P62) u svom novome životu na Malti služi prvenstveno nadzoru malteškog pomorskog prostora i suradnji pri savladavanju migrantske krize na Mediteranu nedaleko Malte.</p>


    Obalni patrolni brodovi klase Austal

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    Za kraj, našem su suradniku u oči upala i četiri malteška obalna ophodna plovila klase Austal – nazvana prema graditelju, brodograđevnom poduzeću Austal iz australskoga mjesta Henderson. Riječ je o maloj klasi plovila naručenih 2009. godine, građenih prema malteškim zahtjevima i sufinanciranih sredstvima Europske unije (za ukupno oko 9,3 milijuna eura po komadu).
    Svako pojedino plovilo dugo je 21,2 metra, ima maksimalno 8 ljudi posade, a po dva dizelska motora MAN D2842 LE410 daju im maksimalnu brzinu od 26 čvorova (oko 48 km/h).

    Sva četiri plovila isporučena su na Maltu u prosincu 2009. godine, a u službu su bila primljena 18. ožujka 2010. godine. Od tada ona aktivno služe prvenstveno potrebama zaštite i spašavanja na moru, ali i pri kontroli pomorskih granica Malte, te spašavanju migranata na Mediteranu.

    *Photo: Tihomir Katarinček




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    Roman_Stefic

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    Re: Nisu članice NATO: Malta

    Postaj by Roman_Stefic on sri pro 07, 2016 5:54 pm

    NEWS:
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    AFM new patrol aircraft rolled out

    24.05.2010: The new maritime patrol aircraft of the Armed Forces of Malta was rolled out at Hawker Beechcraft's facilities in Wichita, Kansas, USA last week. The B200 aircraft, serial numbered BB2016, is now undergoing flight and systems testing by the company before being flown to Germany.

    Once there, Aerodata AG in Braunschweig will fit the aircraft with the Telephonics Corporation's RDR-1700B maritime surveillance and imaging radar, besides other mission related electronics before being delivered to the AFM's Air Wing early in February next year.

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    This belly mounted search radar provides full 360 degree coverage of the marine environments - vastly increasing the AFM's current capabilities.

    The King Air B200 aircraft, being partially financed through the EU External Borders Fund, is a highly successful twin engine turboprop utility aircraft that has been in production in various models since 1972, with over 3,500 of the type now in service all over the world. The AFM's version of the aircraft features a fully digital cockpit, increased maximum take off weight, and specialised surveillance and communications equipment to perform the maritime patrol mission.

    Powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprops, producing 850 shp each, the B-200 can cruise at over 300 mph and has a service ceiling of 35,000 ft.

    AFM Officers present for the roll out, and who flew in the aircraft during the acceptance flight, reported that the aircraft was a delight to fly and is was a marvel of engineering and technology.

    The AFM currently operates two Islander twin-engined aircraft, a number of Bulldog single-engined trainer aircraft and Alouette helicopters.

    Commissioning of 4 new Inshore patrol Boats

    Some information about the Commissioning Ceremony:
    The Commissioning Ceremony is the most important event in the patrol vessel's history. It is the final event of the triad that brings a ship to life: the design phase, keel laying, christening and commissioning, carries a ship from the drawing board to existence.

    At the moment the commissioning pennant is broken and the AFM ensign is hoisted, P21, P22, P23 and P24 formally become part of the Maritime Squadron's Fleet of patrol vessels.

    These four patrol boats formed part of the Inshore Patrol Boat Project which comprised the supply of 4 inshore patrol vessels, a spares package and accociated training for the crew and mantainers. It has been co-financed by the European Union External Borders fund 2007-2013. The EU's EBF has provided 7.2 million for this project (annual programme 2008) which equates to 75% of the project's budget, with the remaining 25% being disbursed from National Funds.

    The 21.2m Inshore Patrol Boat is a proven and tested design already in operation by other law enforcement agencies and will mainly be employed for surveillance, border protection and Search and Rescue operations. The vessels will also be tasked with law enforcement missions and fisheries patrols. The vessel has been designed and built by Austal Ships Pty., which is based in Henderson, Australia. The Patrol vessels are operated by a crew of 8 and berthing facilities include 2 two-men cabins and a four man mess, two heads, two showers, a 360 degree visibility bridge equipped with the latest communications and navigation equipment and an open fly bridge. Twin MAN diesel engines driving fixed pitch propellors via ZF gearboxes deliver a continuous speed of over 26 knots. The vessels are also equipped with a stern launch rigid inflatable boat low aft platforms to facilitate dive operations, a fire monitor on the aft flybridge deck, two 7.62mm light machine guns and a 50 calibre heavy machine gun.

       
    The Commissioning Ceremony:

    Four new aluminium patrol boats were officially commissioned in a ceremony at the AFM’s Maritime Squadron Headquarters in Haywharf on Thursday the 18th March 2010, in the morning.

    This ceremony started with teh arrival of the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Brig. Martin G Xuereb who was welcomed by the Acting Commanding Officer of teh AFM's Maritime Squadron, Acting Lt. Col. Wallace Camilleri, and was accorded a general salute by the QUarter Guard.

    The Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi, was met by Brig Xuereb and was accorded a National Salute and inspected the Quarter Guard. Among the distinguished guests, were the Parliamentary Secretary at the OPM, Dr Chris Said, Justice and Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, and his Parliamentary Assistant, Dr Beppe Fenech Adami; the former Commander of the AFM, Brig. Carmel Vassallo (Rtd) and the Australian High Commissioner, and Austal Shipyard officials.

       
    AFM Commander Martin Xuereb expressed his satisfaction at witnessing the ships’ commissioning so early in his tenure – he replaced Brig. Carmel Vassallo earlier this year.

    Austal representative, Mr. Matt Klingberg said that the project was of particular importance to the company, as it represented its first European defence contract. He said that the lightweight aluminium ships had higher speeds and lower operational costs, and that their “standout characteristic” was their versatility, particularly considering their size.

    Mr Klingberg added that the Australian shipbuilders hoped that the project would be the latest chapter in an ongoing relationship with Malta’s maritime industry. The company is currently building its second large commercial ferry for Virtù Ferries, a ship scheduled for launch in April.

    In his speech, the Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi praised the Maritime Squadron’s work, and stressed that the new boats would help contribute towards the collective security of the EU and the Mediterranean. He added that their procurement will also enable Malta to contemplate extending the squadron to Gozo within the coming months. Dr Gonzi said that a further €12 million investment in the army is also underway, with a new fixed-wing aircraft set to be delivered early next year and the modernisation of its communications infrastructure set to be finalised by the end of April. Dr Gonzi also underlined the importance for Malta to have a modern and efficient maritime squadron because of its responsibilities for maritime safety and in order to counter smuggling and illegal migration.

    Following these speeches, the Master of Ceremonies requested the guests to stand up for the Commissioning, while Brigadier Martin Xuereb, gave the order for the Patrol Boats P21, P22, P23, P24 to be officially commissioned.

    The Maltese Ensigns, Jack, and Commissioning Pennants were then raised simultaneously on each patrol vessel while the AFM Band played the National Anthem. Then The Rev. Fr. Joseph Meli said the blessing and blessed the new patrol boats.

    Following the Commissioning, Senior Austal Representatives presented a token gift, a model of the new patrol boats, to the Acting Commander of the Maritime Squadron who reciprocated with another token gift. Following a short reception, all the guests were taken for a short tour on the new patrol boats. The Official Party was piped on board P21 for the tour around the Grand Harbour.

    The four 21m vessels, designed and built by Australian shipbuilders Austal, were purchased through a €9.5 million investment, of which €7.2 million were funded through the EU’s External Borders Fund. They are set to replace the AFM’s aging patrol fleet.

       
    The boats are the latest step in the modernisation of the Maritime Squadron, which, over recent years also commissioned a Diciotti class offshore patrol boat and two Protector Class boats which are slightly bigger than the new boats.

    The Maritime Base also features a new, extended quay and new quarters.

    Photos of Austal Boats courtesy of the AFM Press Office and AUSTAL.



    New Deputy Commander for the Armed Forces of Malta

    Colonel David P. Attard has been appointed Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta with effect from March 1, 2010.

    The appointment follows the appointment of Brig Martin G. Xuereb as Commander earlier this year.

    Col Attard was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1988 and graduated from infantry colleges in Italy and the United States. He also achieved a masters degree in defence studies from King's College London and also qualified from the advanced command and staff college, Joint Services Staff College, U.K.

    He served as platoon commander with 1 Regiment and later commanded 'C' Special Duties Company, which he transformed into a quick reaction force and the elite unit of the AFM.

    Col Attard more recently served as staff officer at AFM headquarters and headed the European Union Security Defence Policy and International Relations Branch. His last appointment was with the Defence Matters Directorate at the Office of the Prime Minister.



    New patrol boats arrive in Malta

    Four brand-new patrol boats for the Armed Forces of Malta arrived in the early hours of Thursday on a cargo ship.

    These 21-metre long inshore patrol vessels were built to AFM specifications after a tendering process by Austal, a top world-leading Australian shipyard.

    The boats were delivered just 9 months after the contract for them was signed. Capable of reaching speeds of over 26 knots, they are expected to perform a number of maritime security, law-enforcement and environment conservation roles, apart from routine coastal surveillance and patrolling.

    Armed with a 12.7mm main heavy machine gun and two 7.6mm light machine guns, they have included onboard fire-fighting and rescue equipment. Significant improved crew-comfort and safety features are also included.

    These new vessels, costing €9.3m, have been partly financed by the EU's External Borders' Fund.

    After a commissioning ceremony late next month, these 4 new patrol boats are expected to replace 2 US-government donated Swift-class boats, received in 1971 on the setting up of the Malta Land Force (MLF), and a former East German Border Police Bremse-class patrol boat, purchased from surplus military stock from Germany after the reunification of that country.


    Principal particulars:

    • Length, o.a. 69.5 ft
      Length, waterline 58.3 ft
      Beam, moulded 18 ft
      Depth, moulded 9.1 ft
      Hull draft, maximum 6 ft
      Crew 8
      Maximum deadweight 6 tonnes
      Fuel, minimum 5,000 litres
      Main engines 2 x MAN D2842 LE410, 2 x 809kW @ 2100rpm
      Gearboxes 2 x ZF 3000 A
      Propulsion 2 x fixed pitch propellers
      Speed More than 26 knots
      Classification DNV, +1A1 HSLC R2 Patrol, or other equivalent


    Meanwhile, a small patrol boat donated by the United States to the then Malta Land Force in 1971 is expected to head back to the US this year to become a memorial.

    P-24, along with P-23, is still in regular use by the AFM, the last in-service examples of the Swift class of inshore patrol boats built at the time of the Vietnam war.


    The American Swift Boat Sailors' Association (SBSA) last year submitted a request through the US embassy to be given one of the boats. P-23 and P-24 will be de-commissioned in a few weeks time, along with a Bremse-class patrol boat. They will be replaced by four brand new Austal class boats, built in Australia to AFM requirements. They arrived in Malta on a cargo ship last night (10.2.2010).

    The SBSA would like one of the Swift boats to serve as a memorial to fallen sailors during operations in South-East Asia.

    It is understood that the AFM would like to retain P-23 and possibly use it as 'gate-guard' for its maritime base at Haywharf. It would also be a memorial to the seven soldiers and policemen killed on board in a fireworks explosion 25 years ago.

    The United States has been helping the AFM in various way including through officers' training and the provision of equipment. It also helped Malta acquire two Protector class patrol boats.

    Construction of new AFM patrol boats well underway

    Just about four months since the contract was signed, Australian shipbuilders Austal Ships Pty Ltd are working at full speed on the construction of the Armed Forces of Malta’s four new 21.2 metre Inshore Patrol Vessels.

    The four 21.2 metre vessels are being built at Austal’s facilities at Henderson, Western Australia and are scheduled for completion by mid-November. The compressed timeframe for the delivery of the four patrol vessels makes the endeavour an extremely demanding project, but Austal is progressing with remarkable speed and is rigidly respecting project timelines, the AFM reports.

    The 9.6 million euro project is being undertaken using financial resources from the European Union External Borders Fund (2008). The co-financing ratio has been determined at 75 per cent EU funds with the remaining 25 per cent provided by the government.


    The External Borders fund establishes a financial solidarity mechanism to support states that endure, for the benefit of the Community, a lasting and heavy financial burden arising from the implementation of common standards on control and surveillance of external borders and visa policy.

    Following a competitive international tender process for the procurement of four new Inshore Patrol Boats (IPBs), Austal, a world-leading manufacturer of aluminium vessels, was awarded the contract in mid February. The tender, which called for a proven design that addressed specific AFM requirements, also included the supply of a spares package and training programmes for the designated crews and maintainers.

    The new AFM all-aluminium inshore patrol vessels utilise a warped planing aluminium monohull and combine economical performance at all operational speeds with superior sea-keeping in varying sea conditions.

    The AFM’s project team-leader, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Sammut, said, “Excellent lines of communication have been established with the Austal project team. Our relationship is underpinned by strong people-to-people links. Communications with Austal’s project manager are continuous and this augurs well that the AFM will get the best product in line with agreed requirements.”


    The construction of the four AFM vessels has been progressing steadily. In the first four weeks of the project, the Austal design team had already router-cut some 10 per cent of the aluminium parts for the fabrication of assembly-modules, which in later stages of production come together to make a complete vessel. By mid-April, 50 per cent of the aluminium plate cutting had been finished, while 25 per cent of the vessels’ aluminium construction had already been completed.

    The vessels are being manufactured side by side, which ensures that all parts used in the vessels’ build are of the same make and model – making it easier in the long run to service and maintain the vessels.

    The aluminium fabrication of all the wheelhouses, flybridges and masts was completed by end May, and parts of the superstructure of the first vessel started being gloss painted. The shell plating of all the vessels monohulls was also completed.


    A significant milestone in the project was reached with the ‘rolling over’ of the first hull on Friday, 22 May. Following the process, the superstructure was attached to the top. This identical procedure to the remaining three hulls is being carried out at two-week intervals.

    The new AFM patrol vessels, which will eventually replace the current AFM ‘Swift’ and ‘Bremse’ Class patrol vessels, are a logical progression from the current IPB platforms. The new patrol vessels will have a maximum speed of more than 26 knots and will be capable of supporting 7.62mm and 12.7mm guns. The vessels will also be equipped with better communications and surveillance equipment, and will include a 3.4 metre rigid hull inflatable boat, which is stowed and launched off a stern ramp recessed into the main deck. They will also provide better availability for the conduct of various operations up to 100 nautical miles from the Maltese coast.

    Captain Brian Pace, the Maritime Squadron’s Chief Engineering Officer commented, “Besides enhancing our border surveillance capabilities, these vessels have much-sought-after and better sea-keeping characteristics. We’re looking forward to their better endurance, which is complemented by major crew comfort and safety improvements. The superior crew accommodation and enhanced catering and messing facilities for the eight-man crew will certainly be a plus-factor on these vessels.”

    The AFM Maritime Squadron’s responsibilities include maintaining Malta’s territorial waters integrity through combating terrorism and illicit drug trafficking, conducting anti-illegal immigrant and anti-illegal fishing operations, and operating Search and Rescue (SAR) services.

    Meanwhile, the European Commission is investigating the order which the Armed Forces of Malta placed with an Australian shipyard last February for four new patrol boats worth €9.6 million. These will be co-financed by the EU External Borders Fund and the government.

    AFM Commander Brigadier Carmel Vassallo said this yesterday while informing the House Social Committee of the army's projects to strengthen its operations against irregular immigration. Funds for these projects would come from the 2010 External Borders Fund. Brig. Vassallo said that European tenderers had complained to the EC that the order to build the new 21.2 metre boats had been placed with the Australian shipyard. This was the company's first European defence contract.

    Austal was awarded the contract following an international tendering process, which called for a proven design that addressed specific AFM requirements, as well as meeting a demanding delivery schedule. The vessels, which will have a maximum speed of more than 26 knots, are being built at Austal's Australian shipyards and are scheduled for delivery by the end of the year.

    Announcing the placing of the order last February, the army said that the vessels would enhance Malta's border surveillance capabilities. Brig. Vassallo said an order for a security communications system had been placed with an Isreali company which has a local agency. This system would be in place by the end of the year. The seven companies that had bid for the maritime patrol aircraft had been shortlisted to the two or three which had satisfied the specifications. Brig. Vassallo said that the army had to be aware of the running costs of the aircraft, including crew training, and not just the capital outlay.

     
    Further projects are on the drawing board to come out of the 2011-2013 EU budget.


    New Commander for the Armed Forces of Malta
    As from the 18th January 2010, Col. Martin Xuereb took over control of the Armed Forces from Brigadier Carmel Vassallo.

    During a formal change-of-command ceremony held on Friday 15th January 2010, at the Luqa Barracks, Col Xuereb said: “I sincerely never imagined that one day I would be occupying the highest rank. I wish to make an appeal to army officers: Let’s pull the same rope,” he added.

    During the ceremony, the outgoing Commander Brigadier Vassallo betrayed his normal military demeanour and appeared visibly moved when he handed over the colours of the army to the new commander. The 55-year-old brigadier said he had spent over 33 years in the army, seeing it evolve in response to different needs over the years. He said that when he took over, Malta was just starting to carry the burden of illegal immigration, a burden which had since then been largely shouldered by the AFM with regard to search, rescue, detention and security. At the same time the AFM continued to carry out important activities which were largely out of the public view. The past six years, he said, had been characterised by change within the AFM as Malta joined the EU.

    The AFM had seen change in its administration, better training, re-equipment to fit its needs, and participation in operations abroad. Soldiers had also seen an improvement in their conditions and pay.

    Clearly proud of the army he headed since the retirement of his predecessor Brig. Rupert Montanaro 6 years ago, he thanked the officers for the support and loyalty shown to him and appealed for the same to be extended to his successor.

    Col. Xuereb thanked Brig. Vassallo for his service to the AFM and his support during the transition. He admitted that big challenges lay ahead of him and that he needed the support of everyone to overcome difficulties. “I will serve the country and hope that everyone will pull on the same rope for it not to break or tangle,” he ended.

    Following military traditions, when a Commanding Officer is about to be relieved of his command, a special symbolic ceremony is held to mark the end of his time with the unit. The change-of-command parade was also important for the incoming new AFM Commander, Col Martin Xuereb, in that it was his first opportunity to review the troops he is about to command.


    The passing of the AFM Colour from Brigadier Vassallo to Colonel Xuereb marked the official transfer of authority for the AFM from one commander to another. The outgoing Brigadier admitted that his years at the helm of the army were hardly a walk in the park. “I would not say my path was always rosy; there were many difficulties but today I would say that difficult periods strengthen your character and bring out the best military qualities from the army,” he explained.

    During his term, the AFM Commander found himself in the midst of a number of controversies, amongst others the Hal Safi beating of immigrants in 2005, the recovery of the ill-fated trawler Simshar in 2008 and the tragic drowning of 19-year-old Gunner Matthew Psaila last year. Unflinching in his responsibility, he did not hide his disappointment at how events turned sour but offered an explanation for each of them.

    “From the Safi incident, we learned that when your men are trained, one can deal with these situations in a professional manner. On the Simshar, the independent inquiry has exonerated the army from all allegations,” he explained. Yet, he admitted that the death of Matthew Psaila has left a scar on him. “When I saw him lying lifeless on the bed at ITU, I felt as if I had lost one of my own children. He was the age of my youngest daughter,” he added.


    Brigadier Carmel Vassallo
    Commander, Armed Forces of Malta
    On 16th February 2004, Col. Carmel Vassallo, AFM., was appointed Brigadier and Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, with effect from 1st day of March 2004.

    Brig. Vassallo took over from Brigadier Rupert C. Montanaro who retired on reaching pensionable age. Brig. Vassallo was Deputy Commander of the AFM for seven years (1996-2004).

    Born in Cospicua, Malta on 18th May 1954, he was educated at St. Joseph Secondary Technical School and the Polytechnic. He was commissioned into the Regular Force of the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) in the rank of Lieutenant in May 1976 after spending two and a half years in a Military Auxiliary Corps.

    He attended his basic military training at the Italian Army School of Infantry, Cesano, in 1977/78, following which he held the post of Platoon Commander. In 1982, he undertook a helicopter pilot's course and was granted the Italian Military Pilot's licence (helicopters) in June 1983.

    He was granted the Search and Rescue (SAR) pilot qualification in 1985. As Captain, commanded the Air (helicopters) Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta for six years. Since 1987, he has represented the AFM on various UN and IMO SAR Seminars and Conferences.

    Carmel Vassallo studied at the Italian Army War College of Civitavecchia for 2 years, and in November 1989 he was promoted to Major.
    On his return to Malta from Italy, he was appointed Staff Officer Operations and Training at HQs AFM. In January 1992, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and in addition to Staff Officer duties, he was appointed Commanding Officer of AFM Depot personnel. In 1994, Lt Col. Vassallo attended the International Peace Acadaemy in Vienna.

    He was appointed Principal Staff Officer in February 1994. Promoted to the rank of Colonel on 12th August 1996, he was appointed Deputy Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, and Registrar of the National Order of Merit on 30th December 1996.

    In 1998 he underwent a one year course at the 'Royal College of Defence Studies’ in London. During his career, he attended several military courses amongst them the one which qualified him as a helicopter pilot.

    Between 2001 and 2004, Col. Vassallo was the Maltese delegate on the European Union Military Command.

    Appointed as Commander of the Armed Forces, Brig. Vassallo is one of the youngest commanders the Maltese Armed Forces ever had. In fact he was appointed Commander at the age of 49 years.

    His decorations include the Long & Efficient Service Medal.
    Brigadier Carmel Vassallo, has also been awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit at the rank of Commander in January 2010. The US military medal is presented to individuals displaying 'exceptional meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements."


    1,339 individuals have been awarded the medal so far, including Charles de Gaulle. This is the first time it has been awarded to a Maltese citizen.

    The US embassy in a statement issued by its Defence Attache', praised Brig Vassallo for his support for the partnership between the two countries, and also underlined his contribution to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe by rescuing thousands of migrants. "Within a broader spectrum, Brig Vassallo's initiative to integrate the Armed Forces of Malta within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisations' Partnership for Peace rendered fruitful and lasting results," the US embassy said.

    Brig. Carmel Vassallo is married to Mary-Anne and they have a son and two daughters. His main hobbies are DIY and skin diving.

    On 15th January 2010, Brigadier Carmel Vassallo handed over command of the AFM to his Deputy, Col. Martin G. Xuereb.


    The new Archbishop of Malta pays a pastoral visit to the Armed Forces of Malta
    LUQA - Archbishop Paul Cremona late last month paid a visit to Armed Forces of Malta personnel at Luqa Barracks.  At the AFM's Air Wing at Luqa Airport, he was met by AFM Commander, Brigadier Carmel Vassallo and the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Matters, Dr Tony Abela.

    The AFM's Air Wing Commanding Officer, Lt Col. Claudio Spiteri introduced the flight and technical crews on duty to the Archbishop on No. 7 Park, the hub of all the unit's operations.

    The Italian military mission's commanding officer, Colonel Giovanni Ormetti, later accompanied Mgr Cremona on a helicopter flight around the Maltese Islands on board the locally-based AB-212 search and rescue Italian Air Force helicopter. The helicopter landed later on the Luqa Barracks parade ground where a guard of honour, under the command of Captain Robert Bonnici, accorded the Archbishop a salute.

    After meeting more senior officers from AFM's headquarters, the Archbishop celebrated Mass with the AFM's chaplain, Fr Lawrence Zammit, at the Luqa Barracks' chapel to a cross-sectional representation of officers and other ranks from the various AFM units on force. In his homily, Mgr Cremona named many key figures from Scripture who were soldiers in their time and who played important roles in the formation of Christendom. He encouraged the AFM to keep up its most valid work towards the country's benefit, especially in the crucial times the nation is facing due to the negative effects of irregular migration.

    After Mass, the Archbishop walked into the barracks and met some 150 other ranks in their staff canteen. The friendly informal atmosphere provided for conversation between Mgr Cremona and the soldiers, some of whom he recognised from the congregations of his former parishes in Rabat and Sliema.

    After a group photo with the AFM Officer cadre, Mgr Cremona was hosted to a lunch at the Officers' Mess. He reminisced on his younger days when still serving at the Rabat Dominican convent, when Dr Abela was an altar boy during religious services. The Archbishop is expected to be invited to visit other AFM Units and their sub-units in their barracks and bases.




    Land Rovers "Defender" godda ghall-Forzi Armati ta' Malta
    HAL LUQA - Il-Forzi Armati ta' Malta (FAM) se jkomplu jsahhu l-flotta ta' vetturi taghhom bl-akkwist ta' ghaxar Land Rover Defender godda. Dawn il-Land Rovers inxtraw mill-Armata minghand Muscats Motors ghall-prezz ta' Lm95,000 eskluzi mill-VAT. F'ceremonja qasira li saret fil-Kwartieri tal-FAM f'Hal Luqa, Tony Abela, is-Segretarju Parlamentari fl-Ufficcju tal-Prim Ministru, ddawwar jara dawn il-vetturi mis-Surgent John Grixti kif ukoll iltaqa' ma' l-ewwel sewwieqa taghhom.

    Hu qal li l-ewwel impenn ta' dawn il-vetturi se jkun waqt il-Laqgha Gholja tal-Kapijiet ta' l-Istati tal-Commonwealth (CHOGM) aktar tard dan ix-xahar. Dawn iil-Land Rovers se jkomplu jsahhu l-operat tal-FAM b'vetturi militari godda u tajbin tant li jintuzaw ukoll mill-aqwa Forzi Armati fl-Ewropa. Il-Land Rovers, li huma mghammra b'makna 300 TDi, se jkunu nstallati bil-beacons u r-radios.


    F'kelmtejn il-Brigadier Carmel Vassallo, il-Kmandant tal-FAM, qal li l-Armata se tkompli bit-tradizzjoni taghha li zzid man-numru ta' Land Rovers li ghandha. Hu qal li s-suldati fi hdan il-FAM huma mdorrija jsuqu dawn il-vetturi. Fil-fatt ghadhom jinstaqu Land Rovers ta' aktar minn 25 sena li baqghu tajbin hafna fit-triq.

    L-Armata hi kuntenta hafna bix-xiri ta' dawn il-vetturi popolari specjalment wara n-negozjati favorevoli li wasslu biex il-FAM iffrankaw Lm4,000 fuq kull Land Rover.Il-FAM habbru wkoll li se jinxtraw izjed Land Rovers matul is-sena d-diehla.

    Intant il-Land Rovers, ghall-ewwel se jibdew jintuzaw minn suldati stazzjonati ma' l-Ewwel Regiment. Prezenti ghall-okkazjoni kein hemm il-Kurunell Anthony Grech, id-Deputat Kmandant tal-FAM. il-Maggur Pierre Vassallo, kif ukoll il-Kaptani Melvyn Haber u Chris Xuereb. Kien hemm ukoll Henry Scicluna, General Manager ta' Muscat Motors u Dan Sissons, Sales Manager tal-kumpanija Ingliza Land Rover.




    Commissioning of another New Offshore Patrol Boat - P61
    On 4th November 2005, at the Maritime Squadron base in Haywharf, Floriana, the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Brigadier Carmel Vassallo, commissioned a brand new 87ft Patrol Boat. This boat was named the P61. Present for the ceremony were the Prime Minister, Dr. Lawrence Gonzi.

    The ceremony started with the arrival of the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Bgdr. Carmelo Vassallo, who was accorded a salute, followed by the Italian Ambassador. On the arrival of the Prime Minister the Hon. Lawrence Gonzi, the national salute was played and the PM inspected a quarter guard of honour.


    Following speeches made by the Commander AFM and by the Italian Ambassador, a signing over ceremony took place, in which the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Senator Roberto Antonione signed over Patrol Boat P61 to the Prime Minister, Dr Lawrence Gonzi.

    Following this short ceremony, all the guests were asked to stand for the raising of the flags on P61. These flags consisted of the Maltese Ensign, Jack and Commissioning Pennant. The AFM Band played the national anthem followed by the Italian national anthem, and the new Offshore Patrol Boat P61 was then blessed by the AFM Chaplain, Fr. L. Zammit.

    The Muggiano Shipyard Representative presented a gift to the Maritime Squadron consisting of a model of the P61; while the official party consisting of the Prime Minister, Sen. Antonione, the Commander AFM, the Italian Ambassador, and the Shipyards' representatives together with the OC Maritime Squadron, were piped aboard and toured the new P61, while the boat was prepared for sea.

    The AFM's Maritime Squadron which was established in 1970, has 10 Officers and 190 other ranks. The Squadron is mainly concerned with enforcing the law as regards smuggling, ilegal immigration, narcotics and monitoring maritime traffic. It also plays an important role in the coordination of search and rescue operations.

    This new addition is an offshore patrol boat, and was funded from the 5th Italo-Maltese Financial Protocol. It was handed over to the AFM on September 1, 2005 when the Maltese Ensign and Jack were hoisted on the vessel for the first time. After undergoing further sea trials P61 finally departed Muggiano on 26 September 2005 arriving in Malta in the early morning of 1st October 2005, after making a short spell in Messina for urgent repairs. P61 was finally commissioned in an official ceremony at the Maritime Squadron's base in Hay Wharf, Floriana on 4th November 2005.

    This new boat was built by Fincantieri S.p.a. at Muggiano Shipyard, La Spezia, Italy. It comes with two Isotto Fraschini V1716 T2 MSD diesel engines, and is 53.4 metres long and has a depth of 5.4 metres. It can reach around 23 knots at full speed and a patrol speed of 10 knots. The 53.4 metres long vessel is designed to accomodate a crew of 25. Its armament include 1 x OTO Breda 25 mm electrical driven cannon.

    This offshore patrol vessel is capable of launching and recovering a fast interception craft in Sea Force 4 by means of a stern ramp; Fin stabilizers to reduce excessive movement of vessel and to be capable to perform patrols in rough seas force 5 and to withstand sea conditions up to Force 7. reverse osmosis plant for the supply of fresh water, sewage treatment plant, bilge water de-oiling plant, fire fighting equipment, towing capabilities and an air condition environment; Aft platform but with no hangar, to accomodate and replenish up to a medium size helicopter.

    AFM personnel operating on P61 underwent special training in the Italian shipyard.

    At present the Maritime Squadron has 7 serviceable patrol boats along with two SAR launches. All the Kondor class patrol boats have been de-commissioned and sold. next year.


    Commissioning of another New Patrol Boat
    The United States government has donated a second Protector Class patrol Boat, P52 to the Armed Forces of Malta.

    On Wednesday, 7th July 2004, at the Maritime Squadron base in Haywharf, Floriana, the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Brigadier Carmel Vassallo, commissioned a brand new 87ft Patrol Boat. This boat was named the P52. Present for the ceremony were the Parliamentary Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, Dr. Anthony Abela, the Ambassador of the United States of America Mr. Anthony Gioia, as well as many other distinguished guests.

    The ceremony started with the arrival of the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Bgdr. Carmelo Vassallo, the Ambassador of the USA who was accorded a salute, and the arrival of Parliamentary Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, who was deputising for the PM.


    Following speeches made by the Commander AFM and by the US Ambassador, a signing over ceremony took place, in which Ambassador Gioia signed over Patrol Boat P52 to the Prime Minister.

    Parliamentary Secretary at the OPM, the Hon. Dr. Anthony Abela then addressed the gathering, thanking the US Government for this generous donation describing it as a show of friendship between the two countries. Following this short ceremony, all the guests were asked to stand for the raising of the flags on P52. These flags consisted of the Maltese Ensign, Jack and Commissioning Pennant. The AFM Band played the national anthem followed by the US Anthem. The new Patrol Boat P52 was then blessed by the AFM Chaplain, Fr. L. Zammit.

    The Bollinger Representative presented a gift to the Maritime Squadron consisting of a model of the P52; while the official party consisting of the PM's representative, the Commander AFM, the US Ambassador, Commander Harker and OC Maritime Squadron, were piped aboard and toured the new P52, while the boat was prepared for sea.

    The AFM's Maritime Squadron which was established in 1970, has 10 Officers and 190 other ranks. The Squadron is mainly concerned with enforcing the law as regards smuggling, ilegal immigration, narcotics and monitoring maritime traffic. It also plays an important role in the coordination of search and rescue operations.

    P52 comes in conjunction with the current modernisation of the squadron base, which includes the building of a new jetty.

    This new addition to the fleet is identical to the first $5 million Protector class patrol boat donated by the US Government to the Maltese forces in November 2002. That boat was christened P51, having been the 51st boat of its kind built by Bollinger Shipyards Inc., the Louisiana builders that had made another 50 identical protector boats for the US Coastguard.

    This new boat comes with two 150-horse power diesel engines, an on-board reverse osmosis system and despatchable rubber dinghy. It can reach around 27 knots at full speed and a patrol speed of 10 knots. The 87 foot long vessel is designed to accomodate a crew of 12 for a 5-day mission.

    Internal arrangements include 4 two-men cabins and 1 four-men cabin, an office, a separate galley and mess.

    [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

    A unique feature on the P51 and P52 is the fixed ramp incorporated at the stern that allows an advanced rubber dinghy to drive up into the Patrol boat from the sea while it is underway.

    AFM personnel operating on P51 and P52 underwent special training in the US with the US Coastguard and at Bollinger Shipyard Inc.

    At present the Maritime Squadron has 5 serviceable patrol boats along with two SAR launches. Two of the large Kondor class patrol boats are no longer serviceable and one of them is about to be sold while the other will also eventually be sold. The third one is operational under certain conditions. The AFM will take delivery of a larger Italian built patrol boat next year.


    Signing of contract for New Patrol Boat
    On Thursday, 11th March 2004, a contract was signed at the AFM Luqa Barracks between the Armed Forces of Malta and Messrs. Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani for the construction and supply of an offshore patrol vessel.

    The contract covers the construction of the vessel itself together with an associated training and logistical support package. The multi million Euro Project, is being undertaken with technical advice and assistance from the Italian Minsitry of Defence and is financed in its entirety with funding from the 5th Italo-Maltese Financial Protocol.

    The vessel itself is based on the Diciotti class patrol vessels presently in service with the Italian Coastguard but also embodies a number of significant modifications designed to meet specific requirements outlined by the AFM. The 54 metre, 450 tonne craft will be capable of maximum speeds in excess of 20 knots and an unrefuelling of light to medium helicopters as well as the deployment of a fast interception craft by means of a stern ramp. The main armament will consist of a fully stabilised and electrically driven 25 mm OTO-Breda cannon.

    Propulsion is delivered by 2-Isotta Fraschini diesel engines while a further 3 smaller engines from the same manufacterer provide elecrical power. Other significant features of the engineering plant include fin stabilisers to reduce the movement of the vessel, a reverse osmosis plant to ensure the availability of fresh water as well as sewage treatment and bilge-water de-oiling plants in order to protect the marine environment.

    The 25 men crew will work in an airconditioned environement specifically designed to improve efficiency and reduce fatigue.

    Signing the contract were Mr Alberto Maestrini - Executive Vice President for Naval Vessels Business Unit, on the part of Fincantieri and Brig. Carmel Vassallo, Commander Armed Forces of Malta, on the part of the Government. Attending the signing ceremony were HE Dr Alvise Memmo, the Italian Ambassador to Malta, Mr Joseph Caruana, Director Defence Matters at the OPM, Cpt. Domenico de Barnardo, representing the Italian Defence procurement Agency - NAVARM, and Col. Salvatore Fadda, head of the Italian Military Mission in Malta.

    The acquisition of this vessel represents another step in the modernisation of the AFM's maritime assets. The delivery of the vessel is scheduled for the 3rd quarter of 2005 and on entering service, it will compliment the two coastal patrol craft financed by the US Government.


    Commissioning of New Patrol Boat
    On Wednesday 13th November 2002, at the Maritime Squadron base in Haywharf, Floriana, the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta, Brigadier Rupert Montanaro, commissioned a brand new 87ft Patrol Boat. This boat was named the P51. Present for the ceremony were the Prime Minister, Dr. E. Fenech Adami, The Ambassador of the United States of America Mr. Anthony Gioia, as well as many other distinguished guests.

    The ceremony started with the arrival of the Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta Bgdr. R. Montanaro, the Ambassador of the USA who was accorded a salute, and the arrival of the Prime Minister.

         
    Following speeches made by the Commander AFM and by the US Ambassador, a signing over ceremony took place, in which Ambassador Gioia signed over Patrol Boat P51 to the Prime Minister.

    Prime Minister Fenech Adami then addressed the gathering, following which all the guests were asked to stand for the raising of the flags on P51. These flags included the AFM Pennant and the Maltese National Flag. The AFM Band played the national anthem followed by the US Anthem. The new Patrol Boat P51 was blessed by the AFM Chaplain Fr. VicGeorge Vassallo.


    AFM to acquire new aircraft instead of the Cessna Birddogs
    The Armed Forces of Malta have just concluded a deal with the British Ministry of Defence for the acquisition of four BAe Bulldogs from the British Royal Air Force.

    The Commander of the AFM, Brig. Rupert C. Montanaro said that this investment costed the AFM about Lm105,000 and was made through the British Ministry of Defence (Disposal Sales Agency).

    The Bulldogs will arrive at Luqa Airport during February 2000.

    AFM Officer wins Top Award at the US Naval Staff College, Rhode Island
    Captain Martin Cauchi Inglott, an AFM officer serving with the Maritime Squadron, achieved first place in the Fifty Fourth class for International Officers, following a six month course at the United States Naval Staff College, Newport, Rhode Island. The international course included officers from thirty two countries. Additionally, he was awarded the coveted "Captain Walter B Woodson Jr. Memorial Prize" for the best research paper on the topic relating to force planning or strategic issues of maritime interest.

    The course is designed for countries with a Coast Guard and/or Marine Force, as well as a Naval Force.

    At the end of the course he was attached with the US Coast Guard for one month’s ‘on-the-job’ training in the Caribbean.

    Captain Cauchi Inglott joined the Armed Forces of Malta in 1988 and subsequently graduated from the German Naval Academy in Kiel. He also obtained a Diploma in Diplomatic Studies from the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies of the University of Malta.

    The course at the US Naval Staff College was obtained for the AFM through the generous support of the US Embassy. The US Ambassador H.E. Ms K Proffit said that, "Captain Cauchi Inglott distinguished himself as a military officer, an academic scholar, and as a diplomat. Malta should be very proud."



    Illegal immigrants drift into Xlendi Bay - AFM & Police round up some 250
    Tuesday, March 5, 2002
    Some 250 illegal immigrants were rounded up by the police after they drifted into Xlendi Bay, Gozo, last night, packed like sardines in a 40-foot fishing boat.

    Police sources described the operation as one of the biggest they had ever handled. Police and Armed Forces reinforcements were dispatched from Malta, together with two patrols boats and a helicopter to provide coastal and aerial surveillance.

    The immigrants' boat was reportedly packed with families originating from various countries, including Somalia, Iraq and Bangladesh. About 50 were children, the youngest of whom was just months old, eyewitnesses said.
    Sources said the boat people claimed to have left Turkey some three days ago and probably ended up in Gozo after their boat ran out of fuel. Luckily sea conditions over the past few days were good.

    Police were alerted at 7 p.m. that a boat had drifted into Xlendi in the area known as Ta' Kantra. A number of the immigrants were still on the boat by the time the Gozo police got to the scene.
    About 15 of the immigrants tried to escape from the scene but were stopped by the police who do not suspect that any of the immigrants had made their way off before they arrived.

    Nobody was injured in the following operation, with none of the immigrants offering resistance.

    Assistance was immediately provided to them, and about eight of the boat people were taken to the Gozo general hospital as they were in a bad physical condition. These included a woman with a baby.
    Residents and restaurant workers went down to the scene and offered food to the immigrants, several of whom were hungry.

    As expected, the police had a difficult task trying to communicate with the boat people, whom they interrogated following a search.
    The immigrants were then taken under strict surveillance across the channel on the 11 p.m. Gozo Channel ferry to Cirkewwa and were then taken to the police depot for medical examination. They were then split between the two centres used for illegal immigrants: Ta' Kandja and the new Immigration Reception Centre at Hal Far.
    The centre was inaugurated just three weeks ago by the Home Affairs Ministry as the centre at Ta' Kandja was not adequate. The new building, which can cater for about 90 immigrants and 36 refugees, already houses about 20 other illegal immigrants.
    However, in view of the extremely large number of people involved, the 1st and 3rd regiments of the AFM also prepared some of their own accommodation at Lister barracks in Hal Far. Although it is not thought that any illegal immigrants got away, the AFM plans to continue with air and sea patrols in the area, a spokesman for the AFM said.
    Yesterday's operation was supervised by Lieutenant Claudio Terribile from the AFM's Qortin Base, assisted by Police Superintendent Joe Valletta and Inspector Antonello Grech.
    The biggest illegal immigrants operation before yesterday's took place on December 31, 2000, when police guards at the port managed to stop some 200 Tunisians from entering Malta illegally after landing from a Tunisian ferry.
    Less than a month ago, the police rounded up eight suspected illegal immigrants moments after they landed from a dinghy at Birzebbuga. And at Xlendi that same day, about 200 metres away from yesterday's scene, the police found a boat which they believed could have been used by illegal immigrants.


    59 feared dead in Lampedusa boat disaster - AFM helps in rescue operation
    Saturday, March 9, 2002
    Up to 59 illegal immigrants are feared dead after their small boat capsized in rough weather some 60 miles south of Lampedusa and 120 nautical miles from Malta, Italian authorities said.
    The Armed Forces were called to assist in the rescue operation after the boat, carrying some 70 illegal immigrants, ran into rough weather in international waters.
    According to a Reuter's report, at least seven bodies have been picked up from the sea. The tragedy took place just three days after 208 illegal immigrants landed at Xlendi Bay in Gozo after their boat ran out of fuel.
    A spokesman for the AFM told The Times that an Italian fishing boat, the Alide, was the first to notice that the boat was in trouble. This was on Thursday at about 6.15 p.m. The fishing boat alerted the Rome Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre which subsequently informed the AFM about the incident. But before the rescuers arrived on the scene, the immigrants' boat capsized in a position 110 nautical miles south west of Malta, the AFM said.
    The Italian navy vessel Cassiopea together with other fishing boats, helped rescue 11 of the illegal immigrants. Nine of the survivors were taken to Lampedusa aboard the fishing boat, while the other two were held on a military ship, the head of port operations in Palermo told Reuters.
    Though the accident took place in international waters, Malta is one of the countries responsible for aerial assistance in the area. Coastguard and fishing boats continued to search for survivors for most of the day yesterday, involving an Italian navy aircraft and the AFM's Islander aircraft. But the search yielded no survivors, with rescuers doubting whether anyone could have survived the rough seas.
    The 11 people rescued included Nigerian and Liberian nationals.
    It is still unclear where the boat left from, but officials suspected the immigrants were from North Africa. The worst illegal immigrants disaster in the Mediterranean took place in 1996, when 280 people drowned on Christmas day in the channel between Sicily and Malta. In 1997, an Italian naval vessel collided with a packed boat, killing 80 Albanians aboard.

    AFM Islander involved in Lampedusa rescue operation
    Sunday, March 10, 2002
    An Armed Forces of Malta Islander aircraft searching for survivors from last Thursday's disaster off Lampedusa reported sighting what was thought to be a body in the water yesterday afternoon.
    The sighting was reported to the Rome Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre. However, until late yesterday no further survivors had been found following the tragedy when the small boat carrying illegal immigrants capsized 60 miles south of Lampedusa on Thursday evening.
    An Italian fishing boat rescued 11 on Friday and 12 bodies - seven men and five women - were recovered from the area. Some 50 migrants are feared to have perished.
    The search is continuing, in difficult weather conditions, by units of the Italian navy, coast guard and air force and the AFM, which dispatched an Islander to the area yesterday and on Friday. The Islander was on station yesterday between noon and 2.45 p.m. It also reported sighting a jacket in the sea.
    The AFM stated that Italian aircraft participating in the search and rescue operation are refuelling at Luqa airport to extend their patrol duration in the search area.
    The Italian media said yesterday that questions were being asked about the efficiency of the rescue operation. They explained that the migrants' launch radioed an SOS message on Thursday afternoon and an Italian military helicopter confirmed it was in trouble. An Italian trawler took the vessel in tow but the operation failed and the boat capsized in the rough seas.
    An Italian judicial inquiry is under way and magistrates are considering whether the Italian Navy vessel Cassiopea could have done more to rescue the migrants. Ciccio Giacalone, skipper of the trawler Elide, which had been towing the launch, claimed the Italian Navy could have done better.
    The migrants have reportedly told the Italian authorities that they had left from Turkey. The authorities, however, think they actually left from North Africa. The AFM's Islander is expected to resume the search today.

    Another Islander for the Armed Forces of Malta
    The Air Squadron of the AFM has just taken delivery of its second Pilatus Britten Norman BN-2B-26 Islander. The AFM acquired its first Islander on the 5th December 1995.

    The AFM owned aircraft, now bearing its Maltese Registration marks 9H-ADF, has been flown to Malta from the UK by AFM Pilots: Lt. Mark Said and Lt. George Abela. They were accompanied by Capt. Alex Dalli, the Air Squadron's Commander and Lt. Thomas Briffa as Chief Engineer. The Maltese crew took off from the UK base on the morning of Thursday the 24th September and is expected to land at the Air Squadron Base late at night on Friday 25th.

    The Islander is a 10-seater fixed wing aircraft and its versatility has attracted a number of customers worldwide. It has an economic cruising speed of 150 miles per hour at 12,000 feet. It can fly up to 870 miles non-stop at cruising speed with a full payload of 1,300 Kgs. In the past years, the Air Squadron has made full use of this aircraft's flying capabilities. It has been successfully used in Search and rescue operations and Maritime Surveillance.

    Furthermore, it has also been used occasionally to transport military delegations to overseas destinations. The arrival of a second aircraft will give the Air Squadron a significant boost to its operational capabilities.

    This aircraft has been purchased from the makers Britten Norman of the UK. It performed its first flight in 1987 bearing registration number G-LIPP.

    (Press Release: 1759 of the 25.09.1998).

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