Operation Atalanta Spanish Maritime Patrol Aircrew Help to Keep Seafarers Safe from the AirSeptember 15, 2016 - 09:03
Operation Atalanta’s Spanish maritime patrol aircrew, based in Djibouti, fly air missions over the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden on a regular basis. Their key role is to keep a sharp look out over the sea and along the Somali coast for any potential pirate activity. As well as this important counter-piracy work, the Spanish aircrew also regularly performs Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMC) tasks that benefit seafarers in the area.
The Spanish Air Force’s P-3 aircraft provides a Search and Rescue role to merchant ships transiting the waters off Somalia. A life-raft is carried on all flights which can be deployed if the aircrew sees a vessel in distress. Regular broadcasts are made on Channel 16 Maritime Mobile Service to ensure ships know that the Operation Atalanta aircraft is flying in the vicinity. The broadcasts also serve to deter would-be pirates as they remind them of EU NAVFOR’s presence.
Since November 2015 Operation Atalanta aircraft have also flown over the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Fish-Aggregating Devices (FADs). These large, yellow buoys were deployed along the Somali coast in an UN initiative to help increase fish stocks for local fishermen. During their over flights, the Spanish aircrew check the position and condition of the buoys to ensure that the fishermen are still able to benefit from them.
Maritime patrol aircraft provide the Operation Atalanta force commander with a highly-versatile capability that can respond to a developing incident at sea very quickly. It can gather critical information about activity along the coast and far out to sea. Undertaking CIMIC tasking is an added benefit and another example of how EU NAVFOR is helping local seafarers off the coast of Somalia.
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