LÉ Aisling finds new lease of life with Libyan warlord

A former Naval Service ship, auctioned off to a private broker, has ended up in Libya under control of a man who has been described as his country’s most potent warlord.

Irish Naval Service personnel may recognise the renamed Al-Karama (Dignity) during their humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean Sea — because she used to be LÉ Aisling.

She was delivered recently to forces loyal to Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who are involved in fighting a bitter civil war which has rolled on in Libya since 2014.

His forces posted a video on YouTube of the ship’s arrival in the port of Benghazi.

LÉ Aisling was sold at auction for the bargain price of €110,000 last May to Dutchman Dick van der Kamp. It later emerged that she had €16,000 of fuel onboard and the auctioneer hadn’t been told about its value.

Shortly after purchasing LÉ Aisling, the Dutchman advertised her for resale at €685,000.

When contacted by the Irish Examiner yesterday a spokeswoman for
Mr van der Kamp said the company was making no comment.

It isn’t clear if he sold the ship directly to the Libyans, or if it was purchased by an interim who sold it to Haftar’s forces.

Before the vessel was auctioned it had been stripped of its weaponry by the Naval Service.

It is unclear if any of its armaments have been replaced, although the video clearly shows its is still missing its forward 40mm Bofors cannon.

The ship has been reportedly designated as flagship for the Libyan National Army, which is under Haftar’s command.

The Department of Defence was criticised for letting the vessel go so cheaply. It got almost three times as much in 2014 for LÉ Emer and got €240,00 for LÉ Deirdre in 2001.

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