EU Naval Force - Somalia
Operation ATALANTA


chain of command

Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río

Eugenio Diaz Del Rio was born in VIGO (northwest Spain) on October 11 1961. He joined the Navy on August 18, 1980. In July 1985, he graduated as Second Lieutenant.

While being Second Lieutenant he served in Corvette “Cazadora” as Combat Information Center Officer and Naval Gun Fire Support Observer. After that, he commanded Patrol Boat SPS “Toralla”.

He was promoted to Lieutenant in July 1988, and in this rank, he was assigned both to the Tactical and Training Program Center of the Fleet – being responsible for the “Principe de Asturias” aircraft carrier combat system software – and to the Fleet Training Center (CEVACO) as head of Above Water Warfare (AWW) branch.

He was on board Frigate “Santa María”, for almost four years, and while being there he took part in the KUWAIT Liberation War in 1990, as well as in Exercises, Operations and deployments of NATO’S Standing Naval Forces (STANAVFORLANT and STANAVFORMED). On board this ship, he served as Navigator, Communications, C.I.C. Officer, Electronic Warfare Officer and Tactical Action Officer (TAO). While being Lieutenant he commanded fast patrol boat SPS “Laya”.

In July 1997, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and, in September that year, he took the Naval Staff Course. As Lieutenant Commander, he served in 1998 and 1999 as Chief of Staff of the 41st Frigate Squadron (Santa María Class Frigates). In 2000, he was Staff Operations Officer (one year turn) of the NATO’S Standing Naval Force in the Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED). When he returned from STANAVFORMED, and after remaining three months in the Operations Branch (N3) of the Spanish Fleet HQ, he took Command of Corvette “Vencedora” with which he participated in “COHERENT BEHAVIOUR” operation integrated in the EUROMARFOR, as well as in several national and NATO exercises. He ended his command in October 2002 and was then assigned to the Military Cabinet of the Minister of Defense.

He was promoted to Commander on July 1, 2004. Then, he was appointed to the NATO Maritime Component Command (MCC) Staff at Northwood (U.K.), in the N3 Division, where he dealt with all NATO Response Force issues, Operational Planning and Maritime Situational Awareness.

In September 2007, he took Command of the Spanish Navy AEGIS-Area Air Defense Frigate “Mendez Nunez”. During this Command he was deployed to the Indian Ocean integrated in the Royal Navy ORION-08 Task Group. He also conducted antipiracy operations off the Somali Coast and took part in several NATO (NRF preparation) and national exercises.

In April 2009 he was posted to the Spanish Navy General Staff as Branch Head for Strategic Plans (in the Plans and Policy Division); where he was promoted to Captain. He worked for the EU Commission (DG MARE) as Chairman of the User Groups in the Blue Mas Med Pilot Project (wrt interagency exchange of maritime information) from the very beginning till the end of this project.

After the Navy Evaluation process he is designated the Spanish Navy candidate to Command the SNMG-2 during the Spanish Rotation scheduled June 2013 to June 2014. On 26th May he is temporary promoted to Rear-Admiral (OF-6) and on 15th June 2013 he assumed the Command of the SNMG2 until July 2014. During his Command he was deployed six month in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, mainly dedicated to Operation Active Endeavour and NRF Certification, and seven months in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf where he assumed duties as CTF 508 (NATO Anti-Piracy Operation Ocean Shield).

Once he finished his NATO Command, he was assigned as Chief of the Cabinet of the Spanish CNO (AJEMA). On September 2015 is promoted to Rear Admiral and posted as Chief of the Plans & Policy Division in the Navy General Staff.

In July 2016, he is posted as Chief Of Staff of the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), being promoted to Vice-Admiral in April 2018. In the summer of 2019, he is assigned as Chief of Plans and Policy Division in the Spanish Navy HQ in Madrid.

In May 2020, he assumed Command of Spanish Maritime Force (COMSPMARFOR). In addition, from 18 February 2021 he is designated Operational Commander EU NAVFOR OPERATION ATALANTA.

On 17 December 2020, the EU Military Committee supported the nomination of Rear Admiral Eugenio DÍAZ DEL RÍO as EU Operation Commander for Atalanta as from 19 February 2021.

On 26 January 2021 he is appointed as EU Operation Commander for the European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast (Atalanta), as from 19 February 2021.

And finally he was promoted to Admiral on February 24th , 2021.

Eugenio Diaz del Rio is specialist on Naval Combat Systems Software, Tactical Action Officer and Naval War College Graduated. He has six Crosses of Naval Merit; the Military Merit, the Air Force Merit; the Guardia Civil Merit; the Cross of Saint Hermenegildo; two foreign medals: Kuwait Liberation Medal, the Naval Medal of the Republic of Chile; and two NATO Medals (Active Endeavour and Africa) as well as NATO Meritorious Service Medal.

He is married to Amparo Sotelo and they have five children: Amparo, Eugenio, Ignacio, Mónica, and María. He is fond of dinghy sailing and his hobby is flying radio controlled aircraft models.


Rear Admiral Roberto MESSINA

Rear Admiral Messina was born in Livorno on October 18th 1965.

He attended the ITN Naval Academy from October 1984 till April 1988 being commissioned as Ensign.

From 1988 to 2001 he served as Weapons and Operations Officer on board of several ITN Warships, such as:

  • Destroyer Audace (1988-1992), with participation at the 2nd Persian Gulf War;
  • Corvette Fenice (1992-1993), with participation in the Sharp Guard Operation;
  • Frigate Lupo (1993-1996), with participation in the Maritime Monitor/Guard Operation;
  • MHC Numana (1996-1997) as Commanding Officer with the rank of Lieutenant;
  • Frigate Maestrale (1997-2001).

From 2001 to 2003 he was assigned at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis (MD), as Instructor in the Seamanship and Navigation department.

From 2003 to 2005 he served as Staff Officer at the Naval Forces Planning Department of the ITN General Staff in Rome.

From 2005 to 2006 he was Commanding Officer of ITS Carabiniere with the rank of Commander.

From 2006 to 2010 he was assigned at the IT Naval Academy in Livorno, as Director of the Bridge Simulator.

From 2010 to 2013 he served as NATO Training Group Staff Officer at the NATO HQ ACT (Allied Command for Transformation in Norfolk, VA (USA).

From 2013 to 2014 he was Commanding Officer of the 3rd AUXILIARY SHIPS GROUP based in La Spezia with the rank of Captain ITA-N.

From 2014 to 2017 he served as Chief of Navy Personnel Support & Welfare Department at the ITN General Staff in Rome.

From 2017 to January 2021 he was Chief of Personnel Support Department at the Maritime Shore Command North Italy in La Spezia.

In February 2021 he will be appointed at the EU NAVFOR OHQ in Rota, Spain, as Deputy Commander of the EU anti-piracy Operation ATALANTA.

During his career Rear Admiral Messina has been awarded with many commendations for his participation in several naval operations (Persian Gulf, Sharp Guard, Maritime Monitor and Maritime Guard), and he also received the “Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal” when he was stationing at the US Naval Academy, and in 2017 he was awarded “Knight for the merit of Italian Republic”.

Rear Admiral Messina has achieved the Master’s Degree in Maritime and Naval Science at the University of Pisa.

In Italy Rear Admiral Messina lives in Livorno, he’s married with Maria Concetta and has three daughters, Fabiana (27), Sonia (23) and Claudia (14).

Deputy Operation Commander European Union Naval Force Somalia

The Deputy Operation Commander (DCom) exercises command in absence of the Operation Commander.


Rear Admiral (LH) Luca P. Esposito, Italian Navy

Rear Admiral Luca P. Esposito joined the Italian Naval Academy in 1989 and graduated as an Ensign in 1993. An Electronic Warfare and Communications Officer by trade, he spent most of his career as a junior Officer on board Italian Frigates and Destroyers as Electronic Warfare Officer, Communications Officer and Navigator, taking part – among others – in operation Sharp Guard in former Yugoslavia and operation Enduring Freedom. In 2002 he assumed his first command at sea on board ITS Esploratore, an Italian Navy patrol vessel stationed in Sinai, Egypt, as part of the Multinational Force & Observers (MFO) deployed in the area. 

He was later appointed as a Communications Trainer and Instructor at the Italian Navy Training Centre and then as the Fleet Communications and Security Officer at CINCNAV, the Italian Fleet Command in Rome. In 2009 he was promoted to Commander, going back to sea as Executive Officer of the Frigate Libeccio deployed twice to the Indian Ocean in the NATO operation Ocean Shield and in the European Union operation Atalanta. In 2011, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Frigate Aviere. 

In 2013 he was posted to the then new-born Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, GBR, as Military Assistant to the Chief of Staff. He was promoted to Captain in 2015 and in 2016, after three years spent in NATO, he returned to Italy and assumed duty as Deputy Commander of the Naval Station in Taranto, the largest Italian Navy base. 

In October 2018, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the Command Platform and Logistic Ship Etna, Flagship of the Italian Maritime Component Command for the NATO Response Force 2019. Under his command ITS Etna participated in several national and NATO maritime and joint exercises. In October 2019, on completion of his command tour, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the 2nd Naval Division, a job he has kept until being selected as Force Commander for the 37th rotation in Operation Atalanta.

During his career, Captain Esposito has taken part in several national, multinational, NATO, WEU and EU maritime operations. He is married to Sandra and he enjoys spending his free time travelling, skiing and scuba diving.-


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