The appointment by the EU Political and Security Committee of the new Operation EU NAVFOR Atalanta Force Commander (FCdr), Rear Admiral Fabrizio Bondi (Italian Navy), becomes effective today in the French Forces in Djibouti Base (FFDj). He relieves Commodore Joao Paulo Silva Pereira (Portuguese Navy), who has served as FCdr for the last two months. The ceremony was presided by EU NAVFOR Atalanta Operation Commander Vice Admiral José M. Nuñez Torrente (Spanish Navy).
In the same ceremony, MGEN Stéphane Dupont, Commander of the French Forces in Djibouti, and Mr. Fabrice Basile, 1st advisor and head of the political section of the European Union in Djibouti, both were awarded with the Common Service Medal for Security and Defense Policy (CSDPS). The ceremony was also attended by local and international civilian and military authorities.
The event was carried out on board the new EU NAVFOR Atalanta Flagship, the Italian Frigate Bergamini, moored to the previous one, the Spanish Frigate Canarias, which continues will go on sailing as part an asset for of the Operation ATALANTA. Alongside these warships were the five French Navy vessels currently in support of the EU NAVFOR forces. The MHC Orion continues her associated support to the operation, as the FFGH Guepratte. Meanwhile, the LHD Mistral and the FFMH Courbet change their support modality from associated to direct support for the next coming weeks. On the other hand, this is the last event in the Operation for the FFMH Aconit, which has been in associated support during for the last two weeks.
Rear Admiral Fabrizio Bondi takes over command of the Force Headquarters after a long fruitful and successful career while he served as Command of the Italian warship San Marco, as flagship of EU NAVFOR MED Operation SHOPHIA, As as well as Military Assistant to the Operation Commander of EU NAVFOR MED Sophia and IRINI. More recently, from since November 2021 he has been appointment appointed as Consultant of the Chief of the Italian Navy.
He had words of gratitude for all those who have preceded him, and those who have trusted him to carry out this work from now on. But However, he didn't want to let the occasion pass without miss the opportunity of reminding us why we are here. “The maritime security challenges in this area have a direct impact on local societies but also on peace and stability of Europe and beyond. That’s why we have to face them here, possibly in cooperation with our partners, for the sake of the countries of this area and to avoid that their consequences affect us in our countries”.
Over the last 14 years, EU NAVFOR Somalia has become a key element in the worldwide an internationally respected part of the broader regional maritime security architecture in the Western Indian Ocean, working hand-in-hand with national and multi-national military partners to uphold freedom of navigation. As he wished to convey in his farewell message, Commodore Pereira highlighted in his farewell message the success of the Operation appreciated the work of the mission: “In the last two years, there has not been reported a piracy incident, meaning that piracy is suppressed. But unfortunately, it has not been eradicated, so it is important to continue the effort done in the past to ensure that this threat remains contained”.
ATALANTA warships have contributed to the dramatic notable reduction in Somali piracy witnessed off the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean. 171 suspected pirates were detained and transferred into to African justice systems. This ‘legal finish’ has proved to be a powerful deterrent and remains one of the most important achievements in the 14 years of operation ATALANTA.
The Vice Admiral wanted to emphasize the fact that we cannot be complacent. “It is a matter of fact that pirate networks maintain the capability to deploy and to attack merchant vessels if an opportunity arises. It is our job to maintain our dedication and our commitment to hamper any resurgence of piracy in the Indian Ocean”, said.
The Admiral warmly thanked Commodore Pereira for his commendable work. At the same time, he wished the best of luck to fair winds and following seas to his successor, Rear Admiral Bondi, despite the fact that he no longer had the backing of the United Nations resolution.
Today, although pirate attacks may still occur, commercial shipping can safely transit navigate in the region in relative safety, knowing that naval forces are present and able to assist if necessary. relying on the naval forces present in the area, permanently ready to assist.