New fleet tender to join operation Sophia in the Med

FGS Rhein. Photo: German Navy

Ships assigned to the EU-led operation Sophia will be welcoming a new fleet tender to their group once the German Navy ship Rhein sets sail for the Mediterranean Sea.

FGS Rhein is scheduled to depart its homeport in Kiel on March 21 and head toward the Mediterranean where she will help save lives and fight people smugglers.

FGS Rhein will join the group in the Italian port of Augusta, relieving another tender currently deployed to the group, the FGS Main.

During her deployment, FGS Rhein will have a total of 102 personnel embarked.

In addition to the crew, the ship will be home to sanitary professionals, translators and a 12-man-strong vessel boarding team from Lithuania who embarked the German ship on March 6 at Lithuanian Navy base Klaipeda.

Operation Sophia was launched by the European Council in May 2015 to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking in the southern part of the Mediterranean.

As of June 2016 the Council expanded the operation mandate with two auxiliary tasks: to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya, and to train Libyan forces for coast protection.

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