As the battle of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, enters its third week, the Libyan Navy deployed al-Karama offshore patrol vessel in Ras Lanuf, one of the biggest oil export ports in the country.
The deployment was announced by Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the Libyan National Army (LNA), in the afternoon of April 27. The spokesman said that the warship was deployed in Ras Lanuf as a part of a “training mission” aimed at securing key oil ports.
However, the Reuters news agency reported that the warship was deployed to secure Ras Lanuf following rumors claiming that a foreign warship was spotted near the Libyan coast.
Al-Karama was known as LÉ Aisling during its service in the Irish Naval Service from 1980 to 2016. Two years after its withdrawal from active service, the warship was reportedly sold to the LNA’s navy through a shell company in the UAE. The warship is armed with a Bofors 40mm cannon and two Rheinmetall Rh202 20mm heavy machine guns.
A source told Reuters that the deployment of the warship didn’t affect the activities in Ras Lanuf. According the source, the port is exporting oil as usual.
The LNA controls all the Libyan oil fields and oil exporting ports. However, the oil trade is controlled by the National Oil Corporation stationed in Tripoli, which is held by the Government of National Accord (GNA). The army’s leadership likely hopes that the ongoing attack on Tripoli will change this situation.