“Piracy may resurge” was the conclusion presented to the Spanish Chief of Defence (CHOD), Admiral General Teodoro Estaban López Calderón, during his visit to OHQ EU NAVFOR Somalia. At a crucial turning point of the Operation, he meets the Operation Command and Senior Staff members to take stock of the Operation and to get an update on the core tasks and the roll-out of the new executive and non-executive tasks.
Rota, 18th January 2022— This morning, EU Naval Force Somalia Operation Commander, Vice Admiral José M. Núñez Torrente welcomed the Spanish Chief of Defence, Admiral General Teodoro Estaban López Calderón accompanied by several military officials. It was his first visit to the Operation Headquarters since he took office on the 27th of February 2021. He is no stranger to the operation, however:
“I was posted in the Joint Operation Command, when the EU decided back in 2008 to launch this operation in response the piracy crisis off the Somali coast. I would like to congratulate for becoming the most successful EU naval operation.”
The appointment of the Rear Admiral E. Slaars as the Deputy Commander of the Operation coincides with the French EU Presidency. France has made maritime security a priority on its agenda. Besides hosting the OHQ and being the largest troop contributor, Spain permanently provides a frigate and a maritime patrol aircraft. France promised to deploy additional warships and planes in the coming months, as Italy has announced as well. The new Force Commander, Portuguese Commodore Joao Pereira will then command a truly European force – a strong example of the EU commitment to maritime security in times of new geostrategic challenges. Since piracy is supressed, other threats have emerged that require an adjustment of the EU naval presence in the region.
The security of global trade lines stretching across the Indo-Pacific is under threat. Regional conflicts and resulting volatility are hotbeds for organised crime, which could turn the maritime corridor into a hostile space for humanitarian, as well as commercial activities aggravating the already dire economic situation in the littoral countries. Admiral General Teodoro Estaban López Calderón emphasised the relevance of the common effort of the EU to the World Food Programme. The Operation protects those vessels that deliver aid to thousands of people in need.
The CHOD highlighted the global dimension of ATALANTA and its relevance for sectors such as the Shipping Industry, with whom the Operation regularly changes views and coordinates matters of maritime security.