Italy Takes Over Force Command of Operation Atalanta from GermanyAugust 6, 2014 - 10:16
On Wednesday 6 August 2014 Rear Admiral Jürgen zur Mühlen (German Navy) handed over Force Command of the EU’s counter-piracy Operation Atalanta to Rear Admiral Guido Rando (Italian Navy). Brigadier General Dick Swijgman, who recently assumed the role of Deputy Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, presided over the handover on board the EU Naval Force flagship, FGS Brandenburg, in the port of Djibouti.
For the last four months Rear Admiral zur Mühlen and his international military staff of 32 men and women have been embarked on board FGS Brandenburg off the coast of Somalia. From there they have deployed EU Naval Force warships, helicopters and maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to ensure that seafarers remained as safe as possible from pirate attack.
A key role for EU Naval Force warships is to escort World Food Programme (WFP) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. As a result, since the EU Naval Force was launched in December 2008 every WFP ship has remained safe and over the past four months 15 WFP vessels have delivered two million tonnes of aid to displaced people in Somalia.
During the handover ceremony Rear Admiral zur Mühlen took the opportunity to thank and say farewell to his soldiers, sailors and airmen: “I’m very proud to have had you under my command. I have been very impressed by your professionalism, enthusiasm and determination to succeed in accomplishing our common tasks. Well done and Bravo Zulu.”
The Deputy Operation Commander of EU Naval Force, Brigadier General Dick Swijgman, then addressed the distinguished guests and members of the force. In his speech he congratulated the outgoing Force Commander on a job well done and wished the incoming Force Commander the best of luck during his tenure, “Under the excellent leadership of Rear Admiral zur Mühlen the EU Taskforce has prevented any successful pirate attacks. Also WFP has delivered much-needed food to the Somalia people. The flagship has also conducted a number of tactical leader engagements with regional authorities, as well as very successful exercises with other counter-piracy forces in the region.”
The new Force Commander, Rear Admiral Rando, also addressed the ceremony and thanked Admiral zur Mühlen, before stating that under his command “EU Naval Force would continue to protect vulnerable shipping against pirate attacks and the Task Force will continue to support the EU’s Comprehensive Approach by working with other EU initiatives in the region.”
Rear Admiral Guido Rando currently has four EU warships and aircraft and more than 1,000 military personnel within his force.
FGS Brandenburg’s crew will start their long journey home to their base port of Wilhelmshaven on Friday 8 August and are expected to return home by the end of August.
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