The Lebanese Navy is capable and well-trained but drastically lacking in equipment The Lebanese Navy was founded in 1950 and stationed out of Lebanon's first naval base in Beirut. Its modern era began in 1972 with a new naval base at established at Jounieh and a military school a year after. The Lebanese Naval forces suffered their greatest defeat during Lebanon's Civil War at the hands of militia forces in 1990 when the Jounieh Naval Base was completely destroyed. It was be a year before control of the area the base was reestablished and in 1991 the Jounieh naval base was reconstructed. The Lebanese Naval Forces went on to establish three coastal stations to increase their effectiveness and to prevent stationing all their forces at one location.
The Lebanese Naval Forces send nearly all of their Navy officers for training abroad in a variety of European countries as well as the United States. Each country offers different training depending on the specializations of each officer. Officers sent to the United States have undergone schooling in surface warfare and experienced on job training with the US Coast Guard. Many Lebanese Naval Forces Engineers head to France where they receive education regarding detection, transmission, and artillery. Skills used in much of the domestic duties of the Lebanese Naval Forces from initial staff courses, amphibious training, and maritime drug enforcement are taught at British academies. Lebanon trains their own petty officers and sailors but relies on Syrian military academies for advanced training. The skills of the Lebanese Naval Forces are not incredibly diverse or necessarily advanced to the level of European countries due to their limited resources and equipment.
The abilities of the Lebanese Naval Forces largely reflect their missions which are mostly domestic concerns and their operations mirror that of a coast guard more than a traditional Navy. The Lebanese Naval Forces are supposed to preserve the safety of Lebanese waters and provide naval support to the army their greatest day to day focus is narcotics smuggling. Transshipment and production remain an enormous problem because opium from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey travels to Lebanon for processing into heroin. Much of the processing is done in small, mobile labs in Bekaa valley, where they are then shipped to other countries in the region or to Europe. Lebanese Naval Forces are unable to keep up with smugglers due to limited manpower.
At sea, the Navy focuses on port security in connection with illegal immigration. During the Civil War, militia forces controlled several small harbors along the coast of Lebanon allowing the flow of contraband and illegal aliens. These small harbors have since been shut down by the Navy. Naval Forces have also prepared for contingencies that arrive in international waters and have the ability for search and rescue missions as far as Cyprus.
By the late 1980s the Lebanese Navy consisted of 450 sailors and officers stationed at a naval base in Juniyah. Most personnel were Christians. The navy's fleet included six Aztec-class patrol boats, three Byblos-class patrol boats, and two French-made landing craft capable of transporting tanks and of being used in beachhead and evacuation operations. In the war of July 2006, the Lebanese navy and its affiliated stations were exposed to the Israeli enemy’s airstrikes. This resulted in the partial or complete destruction of radar stations. Following this war the UN Security Council issued resolution 1701 which expanded the mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and included a maritime task force with the aim of giving support to the Lebanese Navy whose mission would is to prevent smuggling arms into to Lebanon, in addition to providing support to the Lebanese navy in all the fields (Training, Maintenance …). After the end of this war, all radar stations which were targeted by Israeli airstrikes were renovated.
In 2006, based on decision Number 1 issued by the Cabinet in 16/8/2006, the joint naval operations room was revived under the command of the Lebanese Navy Commander with the aim of controlling naval traffic in Lebanese territorial waters and restraining the violations committed by ships and boats. In addition to the Lebanese naval forces, the Air Force and security agencies concerned in maritime security such as the internal security forces General Security, the Customs, the State Security and the relevant port authorities affiliated to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport including the Port's chairmanship and the parties concerned in investing the ports in addition to the Ministry of Environment. This room is under the jurisdiction of the Army Headquarter – Army Staff for Operations.
Between the 20th of May and the 2nd of September 2007, the Lebanese army engaged in a war against the Fatah al-Islam terrorist Organization in the camp of Nahr el-Bared in Northern Lebanon. During this war, the Navy laid a naval siege to prevent the terrorists from acquiring supplies and from escaping. Furthermore, the Navy provided support to the ground troops when necessary.
Lebanon's coast is not under effective border control, and lots of smuggling could be going on. But the volume of smuggling may have decreased markedly because of the psychological deterrent of large German naval ships that are part of the UNIFIL presence.
By 2007, Lebanese coastal patrol boats cannot even leave their ports during the winter because the Mediterranean swells would swamp these short-length vessels. In response, the Germans sent two 35-meter used coastal boats, the Bremen II and the Bremen IX. They will had a top speed of about 27 knots. The Lebanese crews for these boats were trained in Germany, with the boats operational in May 2007. The United Arab Emirates have given the Lebanese ten small fast boats for coastal patrol.
During the summer 2006 war, Israeli attacks had destroyed Lebanon's coastal radar system. Germany took on reconstruction of this network, furnishing equipment of U.S. technology with Siemens software. The radar system will meet international standards, and be able to communicate information to a central operations room. The new radar system should be up and running by late June 2007. Lebanon's mountainous terrain presents special challenges for coastal radar. The year 2007 witnessed the establishment of a modern radar network along the Lebanese coast. The network was donated from the Federal Republic of Germany. Accordingly, the number of radar stations increased and started covering all the Lebanese territorial waters. The year 2011 saw the establishment of the alarm and surveillance battalion which is stationed in Beirut naval base. All radar stations spread along the Lebanese coast are affiliated to this battalion.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|