The encounter between a NATO ship and a maritime patrol unit belonging to the Libyan National Army (LNA) did occur yesterday, however, it was just a routine and friendly conversation that had taken place in international waters off the Libyan coast, a top NATO official has told The Libya Times.
“NATO ships are conducting the Maritime Security Operation – Operation Sea Guardian – in international waters of the Central Mediterranean off the coast of Libya. Yesterday a team from the HNLMS Karel Doorman had a friendly conversation with a boat from the Libyan National Army while on their patrol in international waters,” Commander Denver Applehans has said in an email from NATO’s Allied Maritime Command.
This morning the video below was making the rounds on social media showing a commander of an LNA patrol boat speaking on the radio to the crew of an unidentified NATO ship and telling them that they should keep away from Libya’s territorial waters “in respect for Libya’s sovereignty and the international law”. The video also featured the voice of the cameraman who filmed the video identifying the commander of LNA boat as Captain Mohammed al-Majdoub. The cameraman is heard boasing that the encounter coincided with the 4th anniversary of LNA’s Operation Dignity and a military show marking the occasion that has taken place yesterday in Benghazi.
In response, Sim Schot, commander of the Dutch navy ship Karel Doorman said this on Twitter: “During Maritime Security Operations it is important to communicate with all relevant agencies and authorities. This morning the crew of one of our small boats (FRISC) had a friendly conversation with their colleagues on a military Patrol Vessel near the Libyan coast.”
His remarks were echoed by the Dutch navy who took to Twitter earlier this evening to explain their version of the story: “Yesterday we conduct a Maritime Security Awareness Approach with a vessel in the international waters close to the shore of #Libya[.] As NATO-member we are now a part of Operation Sea Guardian”.
Main photo courtesy of Twitter.com/C_KarelDoorman