By Tom Westcott.
Tripoli, 2 April 2013:
HMS Kent, the first UK warship to dock in Tripoli Harbour in 40 years, arrived today, . . .[restrict]Tuesday.
The ship’s captain, Commander Ben Ripley, told the Libya Herald that he was honoured to be in Tripoli. “The Royal Navy is proud to support Libya and has had a very warm and friendly welcome,” he said.
During the ship’s two-day visit, he said, crew would be working with the Libyan Navy, politicians and officials, as well as social organisations. The ship will also host a number of UK defence and security firms, offering services and training.
Ripley said he and his crew were looking forward to visiting historic sites in and around Tripoli. He added that the Royal Navy would also try to beat the Libyan Navy at football tomorrow.
The Head of Media Operations for the Libyan Navy, Colonel Ayub Gacem, welcomed the 1998 Type 23 frigate, and said that the visit highlighted the collaboration between the UK and Libya.
Good relations between the two countries were being restored, Gacem said, based on mutual respect. He added that the UK was “very keen to support Libya in areas of military and civilian support to help restore security to the national community.”
Gacem continued that he hoped that the visit would be useful for the UK’s Royal Navy and that it would “act as a spokesperson in the UK to give a positive image of Libya.”
Deputy Head of Mission at the UK Embassy in Tripoli, Gill Fraser, said that the UK was proud of the help it gave the Libyan people during the revolution.
“The UK remains steadfast in the support it will provide to the Libyan people and its government,” she said, adding that it was now expanding its range of support to the Libyan government.
HMS Kent’s visit, Fraser said, was “a symbol of increased military cooperation” between the two countries. [/restrict]