Sharing the same patron Saint as the city of Beirut, Saint George, Her Majesty's Ship HMS DRAGON, one of the world's most advanced warships - Type 45 Destroyer, docked in Beirut port for three days. This is her first visit to Lebanon on her way back to the UK after a seven-month deployment and the second for the Royal Navy since HMS Ocean's visit in 2017.
Standing at 152 m in length and 21 meters in height, HMS Dragon is home to over 220 officer and sailor 10% of which are females. She is an anti-air warfare destroyer designed primarily to protect UK national and allied-coalition forces against all known airborne threats. Achieving eight successful interdictions seizing over 18,000 KGs of narcotics with a street value of hundreds of million US dollars, HMS Dragon has become the most successful Royal Naval vessel to conduct counter narcotics operation, achieving the largest total, number of seizures and total weight of drugs.
During her stay at the Port of Beirut, the first Type 45 destroyer hosted various events, including media tours, a capability demonstration, designed to emphasise and deepen the partnership between the two countries. The Royal Navy Marines and Lebanese navy conducted a live diving exercise and fire-fighting exercise. Lebanese Army Navy Officers and cadets also held in depth tours on board of Dragon.
HMS Dragon's visit is a symbol of the strong friendship and partnership between the UK and Lebanon. This extends from political, diplomatic, development and defence links to education, culture and trade. With a UK support of $200 million last year, we remain committed to a stable, secure and prosperous Lebanon.
HMS Dragon's Commanding Officer Commander Michael Carter Quinn, and Defence attache Lt. Colonel Alex Hilton met with Lebanese Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hosni Daher.
During her stay, Commander Carter Quinn and Ambassador Rampling hosted an evening reception. More than 100 guests attended, led by representatives of President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri: Defence Minister Elias Bou Saab, Information Minister Jamal El Jarrah and MP Yassine Jaber respectively.
Addressing his guests, British Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling said:
'The United Kingdom's defence policy is 'international by design', meaning that our partnerships are central to all that we do. And standing on board this ship and looking around me, I think it is striking that Lebanon, too, is 'International by Design.' For our two countries share a great heritage of sailing and trading.
Friends, your security is our security. We have invested heavily in the LAF and ISF since 2011, as well as in education, Service Provision, Humanitarian assistance. Lebanon is one of the highest recipients of UK Aid in the region.
The UK-Lebanon trading relationship is becoming stronger by the day, and will become more so.
The United Kingdom will continue to help the Lebanese people to build a strong, sovereign state. As we will continue to work with our partners, new and old, to support peace and stability in Lebanon, in this region, and across the World.'
Commanding Officer Commander Michael Carter Quinn said:
'It has been a great pleasure to bring HMS DRAGON to Beirut, a visit that has been nearly nine months in the planning, to finally get here and be afforded the opportunity to explore the wonders of Lebanon has been a great honour. This visit has afforded my team the opportunity to engage and support the Lebanese Armed Forces, through mutual training events and hosting members of the local community on board for a reception. We leave here having built new friendships and demonstrated the United Kingdom's commitment to Lebanon. I look forward to visiting again in the future.'
The visit of HMS DRAGON coincided with that of Defence Senior Adviser for the Middle East Sir John Lorimer who met with senior Lebanese officials including, Lebanese Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Defence Minister Elias Bou Saab.
Source: National News Agency