US Destroyer Docks at Beirut Port For First Time in 30 Years
September 15: The USS RAMAGE docked at Beirut Port on Saturday, marking the first time that an American vessel has docked in Lebanon in over 30 years.
The US Embassy tweeted that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer “entered Beirut Port on September 14 as a symbol of the enduring partnership between the US and Lebanon to ensure security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean.”The ship was on a “goodwill visit to showcase the strong US-Lebanon relationship and a commitment to freedom of navigation,” the tweet continued.
A reception was held aboard the ship, hosted by Vice Admiral James Malloy, commander of the US Fifth Fleet. Local press said representatives from all parliamentary blocs attended the event except Hezbollah.
According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard said that the arrival of the destroyer is a political message, “assuring the depth of relations between Lebanon and the United States.”
While American ships evacuated US citizens from Lebanon during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the visit was the first time that American forces have been in Lebanon since the Beirut marine barracks bombing in 1983 that killed 241, mostly American marines.
The Ramage has approximately 300 sailors, and had been previously deployed to support and provide ballistic missile defense to the Fifth Fleet’s area of responsibility, which includes the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea and parts of the Indian Ocean.
Equipped with self-defense capabilities in air, undersea and surface warfare, it can operate in a high-density, multi-threat environment.
In July, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that he was finalizing a plan to increase the country’s naval capabilities.
“Lebanon’s strong naval capabilities will play a pivotal role in protecting our national oil and gas resources,” Hariri was quoted by the Daily Star as saying. “This plan falls within my priority to strengthen state security institutions and to maintain state authority over Lebanese territorial waters, in order to counter terrorist activities, illegal immigration, human trafficking, and the smuggling of goods and illicit material.”
The United States is the biggest contributor of military equipment to the Lebanese army, providing some $1.7 billion worth of equipment to the Lebanese Armed Forces since 2006 to help troops protect the country’s borders and bolster it from the threats posed by militant groups.
Source: Jerusalem Post