Brazilian Navy Frigate ‘Constituição’ Returns from Peacekeeping Mission in Lebanon
By Dialogo September 09, 2013
After spending nine months on the peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, emotions ran high in Rio de Janeiro’s Naval Base (BNRJ) on the morning of August 31st with the arrival of frigate “Constituição.” Since January 2013, it has been the main flagship of the Maritime Task Force (MTF) for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Longing for their loved ones, family members and friends celebrated the arrival of 250 soldiers when they disembarked from the ship. Signs, t-shirts, cheers, smiles, tears, and the display of anxiety for an embrace at the reunion were all over the BNRJ. Five-year-old Arlon de Souza Andrade, son of Petty Officer Third Class Adonai Shalon Lima de Souza, said: “I want to squeeze him really tight now!”
Neuci Alves Mendes, mother of Petty Officer Third Class Bruno Alves Mendes, was proud of her son’s career. “I feel a sense of accomplishment as a mother, and I am relieved because God brought him back safely.” Mendes commented on the challenges he faced during the mission. “Especially in the beginning, it was difficult to get used to the distance, the language and the new culture. We also felt homesick, but we constantly kept the mission goal in mind.”
Being far away from his family members was also a challenge for Commander Marcos Ulisses Diniz Sobreira. “The most difficult thing to control was how much we missed our family during the nine months that we were apart.” According to Cdr. Sobreira, the performance of the ship and its military crew was recognized by the United Nations (UN). “It was a pleasure to help the Lebanese people. The objective of the mission was to contribute to the peace in Lebanon, preventing the influx of weapons to minimize an increase in violence. I can guarantee that we have a sense of accomplishment and that we have represented the traditions of the Brazilian Navy.”
The MTF-UNIFIL was created in 2006 in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution in response to the request of the Lebanese government. It is the first UN peacekeeping mission that has a Maritime Task Force, currently led by the Brazilian Navy.
November 14, 2011 entered Brazilian naval history as the day when the first Brazilian Navy war ship was incorporated to a UN peacekeeping mission (Frigate União). Frigate “Constituição” was the third ship to fulfill this mission, and it was replaced by frigate “União” in the area, before it returned to Brazil.
Frigate “Constituição” participated in a multinational group formed by eight ships, two German ships; two ships from Bangladesh; one from Greece; one from Indonesia; and one from Turkey.
The main task assigned to the Brazilian frigate in Lebanon, along with the other resources, was to intercept the influx of unauthorized weaponry into Lebanese territory via Maritime Interdiction Operations. Meanwhile, Brazil contributed by training the Lebanese Navy to exert control over their judicial waters.
Frigate “Constituição” departed from Rio de Janeiro on December 4, 2012, with a crew of 250 marines from which 210 were from the ship; 14 from the Onboard Air Detachment; 18 from the Marine Corps Reaction Group against the Asymmetric Threats; and eight were Combat Divers.