EU NAVFOR continuing counter-piracy missionJune 6, 2018 - 16:31
Whilst piracy off the coast of Somalia has been repressed it has not gone away. The threat continues and so the need for EU NAVFOR to be ready and capable continues.
Two key capabilities that help us do this are the Spanish Air Force P3-Orion Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) and the Spanish warship ESPS Meteoro. Recently they met off the Somali Coast and exchanged salutes.
P-3 Orion MPRA
Spanish MPRAs, including the P-3 Orion, have been deployed continuously in the international effort against piracy in Somalia since the launch of EU NAVFOR’s Operation Atalanta in 2008 is a four-engine turboprop aircraft with a sophisticated array of sensors developed United States. It can be used over land and sea for surveillance, targeting strike points on the ground and relaying real-time video, thwarting drug smuggling and terrorism attempts, preventing illegal immigration and protecting shipping lanes and deterring pirates. The P3 Orion is an ideal aircraft for Op Atalanta as it is configured to capture photographic imagery and conduct radar surface searches and analysis in the deterrence of piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
On 29 October 2008, a Spanish P-3 aircraft patrolling the coast of Somalia reacted to a distress call from an oil tanker in the Gulf of Aden. To deter the pirates, the aircraft flew over the pirates three times as they attempted to board the tanker, dropping a smoke bomb on each pass. After the third pass, the attacking pirate boats broke off their attack. Later, on 29 March 2009, the same P-3 pursued the assailants of the German Navy Tanker Spessart (A1442), resulting in the capture of the pirates.
ESPS Meteoro is a Spanish warship currently deployed in the Western Indian Ocean on Op Atalanta. She is a BAM (Buques de Acción Marítima – Maritime Action Ship) built by Navantia, and has operated previously as part of Op Atalanta in 2013 and 2015. She is a multi-role Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), combining high performance with mission versatility, capable of conducting escort duties, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, patrolling and interdiction. Meteoro is armed with a 76mm gun, two 25mm automatic cannons and two 12.7mm machine guns. The vessel is equipped with a helicopter landing platform, rescue equipment and medical facilities and can be deployed in a range of missions including patrols and protection.
The Spanish MPRA detachment and ESPS Meteoro continue the EU NAVFOR mission to deter attempts of piracy or armed robbery at sea.
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