The Iraqi Patrol Ship Fatah Arrives at the port of Umm Qasr escorted by two MI-17 helicopters. Photo by Capt. Tommy Avilucea
Story by Capt. Tommy AviluceaDate:
UMM QASR, Iraq Highlighting a procession of the Iraqi navy, and escorted by three MI-17 helicopters, the latest addition to the fleet, Patrol Ship "Fatah" arrived at port here June 21.
Fatah is the first of four ships contracted from the Fincantieri Shipyard in La Spezia, Italy, and is being designated as the flagship of the Iraqi navy.
The 34-member Iraqi crew sailed the Fatah here from La Spezia, completing a 5,100-nautical mile, 26-day voyage. The journey brought the ship through the Mediterranean Sea, transiting the Suez Canal and eventually navigating around the Arabian Peninsula.
Abd Al Qadr, Iraq minister of defense, began his remarks by conveying the Iraqi prime ministers' pleasure with receiving the first of four vessels that will provide a protection capability of the navy during the coming years.
"We have carved out these naval vessels from the food of our people, so you have to protect them, take care of them and provide maintenance for them. I repeat it is provided to you, rather building schools or hospitals or other things, in order to have all the protection for your people and sons of your people," Abd Al Qadr said.
Abd Al Qadr added, "I remind you this is with the support of the government of national unity and the Iraqi parliament to develop our armed forces and assume full independence for protecting Iraq's land, airspace and waters."
Maurizio Melani, Italian ambassador to Iraq announced, "The Iraqi fleet has been enriched by this vessel and it has the duty to defend the territorial waters and the natural resources of Iraq. The capability is extremely important to the prosperity, wealth, stability and security of Iraq."
Melani added, "Together with its partners with the European Union and NATO, Italy wants to support the capacity building of Iraq in the security field. I congratulate you for this achievement and I would like to stress the solidarity and support to the country of Iraq."
The Naval Advisory and Training Team for Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq will continue to help train the Iraqi naval force. MNSTC-I's goal is to develop a capable-and-responsive force, properly organized, trained, equipped, stationed, and sustained with appropriate procedures in place to support naval forces conducting maritime security operations in the region.