MARITIME SQUADRON, MQR ('Midalja Ghal Qadi tar-Repubblika')
The AFM Maritime Squadron, MQR provides the maritime element of the AFM and operates from Hay Wharf Base in Floriana. The Squadron has a general responsibility to meet defence and contingent requirements such as maritime surveillance, maritime law enforcement, and also responsible to execute search and rescue operations at sea. Medical Evacuations (MEDEVAC) and Casualty Evacuations (CASEVAC) are also duties carried out by this Squadron. Other sundry tasks include reconnaissance operations, VIP conveyances, and security escort duties at sea also fall within the remit of the Maritime Component. The Squadron is commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Etienne Scicluna, AFM.
There are five Commands at Maritime Squadron AFM namely:
Headquarters Command. Responsible for the Squadron’s service support. It is responsible for the supply and procurement of all POL (Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants), ammunition, materials and supplies necessary to sustain patrol boat operations throughout the year. Moreover, it is also responsible for base security and transportation.
This Command is composed of 4 offshore vessels consisting of the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) P61 and the P62, which is considered the Flagship of the Maritime Squadron AFM, and two other Protector Class patrol boats, P51 and P52.
This Command consists of three sections:
Patrol Vessels - This consists of four crews which man the four inshore patrol boats these being the 21-metre inshore ‘Austal’ patrol vessels.
SAR (Search and Rescue) -This Division comprises of three crews which man two SAR launches of the P05, P06, the 'Supervittoria' Class, MELITA I AND MELITA II.
SBU (Special Boat Unit) which is a small marine detachment with the capability to deploy and board a vessel by sea or air. The team is able to operate either from a Squadron patrol vessel, fast interceptor or an Air Wing platform.
This Command consist of a land and sea element which are necessary to cater for an immediate and swift response on the island of Gozo.
Land Component – The land component consists of a platoon strong element tasked with defending the territorial integrity of the island of Gozo. Their tasks also include provision of military assistance to the Malta Police Force and other Government departments.
Maritime Component – The maritime component consists a Melita SAR boat and a Defender Class boat which are permanently based at Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.
Support Command provides all the equipment support to achieve and sustain the required level of operational availability of all maritime craft in service with the Force both in peace and in war time. It incorporates equipment and supply management.
MARITIME SQUADRON NATIONAL AWARD
On 13 December 2008, the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta was awarded the 'Midalja Ghal Qadi tar-Repubblika' (MQR) service medal by H.E Dr Edward Fenech Adami President of Malta.
This was the first time in local history that this honour was awarded to a group of people collectively. Previously this honour was solely awarded to individuals.
It was also the first time that an AFM Regiment was decorated with this honour in the history of the Armed Forces of Malta.