Libya Tribune

The Government was slammed after it emerged the LE Aisling is now under the control of General Khalifa Haftar.

The Department of Defence was heavily censured last year when they sold the vessel for a bargain €110,000.

This criticism further intensified when it was later revealed the ship contained €16,000 worth of fuel that wasn’t factored in before the auction.

The Irish boat, which clocked up more than 650,000 nautical miles while in service with the Navy, was eventually bought from the Dept of Defence by Dutchman Dick van der Kamp.

This private buyer then put it up for sale again — this time with a price tag of €685,000.

It’s not clear who then bought the Aisling from Van der Kamp but it has since been delivered to the Libyan National Army, under the command of General Haftar.

The 75-year-old military chief was formerly a Gaddafi ally but returned to Libya in 2011, after years in the US, to join the NATO offensive that toppled him.

Aengus O Snodaigh TD told the Irish Sun: “This is bizarre, especially given the fact you’ve the Irish Navy operating in near Libyan waters and you could have a situation where one of their former boats could be facing them.

The price it was sold for was miniscule considering the size. And we said it at the time, there were three ships being sold and they weren’t the most efficient but they could have been used for training.

They also could have been something interesting for the maritime museum here because of their historical significance. These are boats that were made in Ireland down in Cork.”

The LE Aisling was decommissioned by the Irish navy in 2016 and all weaponry was removed from the vessel before it was sold on.

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New flagship, Al-Karama, for haftar’s Al-Karama forces

The Libyan National Army (LNA) has taken delivery of the flagship Al-Karama (Dignity) offshore patrol vessel, the former Irish vessel Aisling.

The LNA released a video on May 17 showing arrival of the vessel at Benghazi naval base. It was welcomed by the head of the Libya Nnavy, Commodore Faraj Al-Mahdawi Al-Tarhouni, military advisor Major General Abdullah Aoun and other dignitaries.

The Libyan National Army, led by Khalifa Haftar, controls much of eastern Libya, and named the new vessel after the operation to secure Benghazi in 2014.

The arrival of this vessel is a qualitative leap for our fleet and another success of our armed forces added to the chain of successes locally and internationally,” the LNA said, adding the vessel would be used to protect Libya’s territorial waters and fight against terrorism, human trafficking and illegal immigration.

LÉ Aisling was built in Ireland in 1979 and from 1980 was in Irish Naval Service as a patrol vessel until decommissioned in June 2016. It was sold to Dutch broker Dick van der Kamp for 110 000 euros in March 2017 and subsequently offered for resale for 685 000 euros.

The vessel sailed over 650 000 nautical miles during its years of active service.

According to IHS Jane’s, the Aisling was re-registered by Universal Satcom Services FZE based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in April. It sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar at the beginning of May on its delivery voyage.

The Emer class offshore patrol vessel is 65 metres long and displaces 1 020 tons. Top speed is 31 km/h and crew complement is 46. She was armed with a 40 mm main gun, two 20 mm cannons, and two 7.62 mm machine guns but it appears she was delivered to Libya without weapons.

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