Spain Proud to Assume Force Command of the European Union’s Counter-Piracy Operation Atalanta off the Coast of SomaliaFebruary 24, 2017 - 10:19
On Friday 24 February 2017 Rear Admiral Rafael Fernández-Pintado Muñoz-Rojas assumed the role of Force Commander of the European Union’s counter-piracy Operation Atalanta on board his flagship, ESPS Galicia, during a ceremony held in Djibouti port.
Djibouti is a key partner to the EU, with the busy port providing valuable logistical support to Operation Atalanta maritime patrol aircraft and warships. Translators from the Djiboutian Navy also regularly embark Operation Atalanta warships during their counter-piracy patrols to assist the sailors during their meetings with Somali and other regional forces.
The ceremony was attended by the Spanish Minister of Defence, EXCMA María Dolores de Cospedal García; the head of the EU Delegation in Djibouti, Ambassador Adam Kulach and Operation Atalanta’s Deputy Operation Commander (DCOM), Rear Admiral Giovanbattista Raimondi.
With a Force HQ staff of 26 during the next five months, Rear Admiral Fernández-Pintado will have tactical command of Operation Atalanta warships and maritime patrol aircraft as they conduct their counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 and is part of the European Union’s efforts to ensure Somali-based piracy remains suppressed to enable World Food Programme vessels that carry humanitarian aid to Somali ports and merchant ships that transport goods to and from Europe, stay safe from pirate attack.
Other key roles for Operation Atalanta warships are to monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast and to support EU sister missions that are working to strengthen maritime security and capacities of regional states in the Horn of Africa.
Speaking during the ceremony Rear Admiral Fernández-Pintado stated “I am truly honoured to be Operation Atalanta’s Force Commander. The continued deterrence of piracy off the coast of Somalia is crucial if we are to ensure seafarers remain safe. My team and I will work relentlessly to ensure that there is no hiding place for would-be pirates and it is my intention to work as closely as possible with the other EU missions in the region.”
In reply, Rear Admiral Raimondi stated “We should remember that any success we have had in suppressing pirate attacks could be reversible. The international community must remain vigilant and not give any would-be pirates the sea room to attack vessels and their crews. I know that Rear Admiral Fernández-Pintado and his Force HQ staff are fully prepared and ready to react to any challenges they may face. Rafael – you have my and the Operation Commander’s best wishes. Fair winds and following seas.”
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