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29 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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13,000-km away, a floating piece of Bangladesh

Deepak Acharjee, from BNS Ali Haider at Mediterranean Sea, Lebanon
13,000-km away, a floating piece of Bangladesh
The national flag of Bangladesh flutters on a navy ship, BNS Ali Haider, at a Lebanese jetty in the Mediterranean sea displaying ‘a small Bangladesh away from Bangladesh’. The picture was taken on Monday. Independent Photo

Warship BNS Ali Haider, deployed in Beirut, Lebanon, as part of a UN peacekeeping mission, is a floating piece of Bangladesh. It is equipped with a Level-1 hospital, a gymnasium, a sewage treatment plant, a workshop, a cooking house, an entertainment centre, and a dedicated training mess, besides military equipment.

All these were set up in the warship to support the sailors, maintain the ship, and to ensure its smooth operation as it patrols the Mediterranean Sea to ensure national security, peace, and stability of friendly country Lebanon.

Along with the warship BNS Ali Haider, BNS Nirmul has also been deployed in Lebanon under the Bangladesh Contingent (Bancon-8) of the Maritime Task Force (MTF) of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

When this correspondent visited BNS Ali Haider in Lebanon yesterday, the commanding officer (CO) of the warship, Captain Afzalul Haque, said they have set up a hospital, a gymnasium, a sewage treatment plant, and a workshop to provide all kinds of support to their sailors, who are working as peacekeepers here, and also to operate the ship smoothly.

“Our sailors are singing songs, learning to speak English, visiting historical places in this beautiful Gulf country, playing games in the sports corner, and enjoying television shows through a cable network of their own arrangement on the ship. This is to ensure they have strong mental health,” he said.

“The 200 Bangladeshi peacekeepers working on the ship are also taking part in religious and cultural activities on the warship,” he added.

“We are in the Mediterranean Sea, 13,000 km from home. We cannot feel homesick on duty. That is why these facilities have been provided to them,” the CO of BNS Ali Haider, a former CO of warship BNS Madhumati, explained.

Commander Afzal said there are three sewage treatment plants to treat water and human waste. “Human and kitchen waste goes to the tanks through pipes. After storing the waste, we treat it using chemicals in a machine. The waste is turned into pure water and discharged into the deep sea,” he explained. “We never discharge any waste into the sea without treatment,” he added.

“We refine seawater in the reverse osmosis plant to make drinking water when we patrol the sea,” the senior naval officer said.

Two doctors and six medical assistants treat the sailors of the warship at the Level-1 Hospital. There is a pharmacy to provide medicines and other medical kits to the sailors.

Lt commander Mozahidur Rahman, editor of the wall magazine ‘Gangchil’, said some sailors write well and that is why they have the magazine running on the warship. “Eleven sailors have written poems and short stories in the December issue,” he said.

Surgeon commander MA Taher, who is in charge of the hospital, said they treat five to seven patients daily. Most of them are suffering from cold, fever, back pain, and muscle cramps.

“We have an operating theatre in the hospital for small surgeries. We also have an ECG machine, nebulisers, and glucometers,” he said.

Lt Commander Afsar Uddin, who is in charge of the workshop, said they have four types of machines to repair the equipment of the ship. These include drillers, lathe machines, and grinding devices. “We can make small tools for the ship,” he said.

The Bangladesh Navy has been serving in the UNIFIL since 2010. Two ships, BNS Osman and BNS Madhumati, were deployed in Lebanon in May that year. The BNS Ali Haider and BNS Nirmul replaced these two ships in June 2014.

Bangladesh Navy is the third Asian and the only navy in the subcontinent to serve in this volatile region.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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