Operation Atalanta

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Operation Atalanta
Part of Piracy in Somalia
Somalian Piracy Threat Map 2010.png
Piracy area of interest in the Indian Ocean (2005-2010)
Date 8 December 2008 – ongoing
(6 years, 5 months, 2 weeks and 2 days)
Location Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean
Belligerents

 European Union

[3][4]
Pirates
Commanders and leaders

United Kingdom Major General Martin Smith MBE
Operation Commander EU Naval Force

Italy Rear Admiral Paolo Pezzutti
Deputy Operation Commander EU Naval Force

Spain Rear Admiral Alfonso Gómez Fernández de Córdoba
Force Commander EU Naval Force
Unknown
Strength
Typically 4–6 surface vessels, 2-3 maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. Unknown

Operation Atalanta, also known as European Union Naval Force Somalia (EU-NAVFOR-ATALANTA), is a current military operation that is the first undertaken by the European Union Naval Force. The operational headquarters is located at Northwood Headquarters in the UK.[5]

The mission launched with a focus on protecting Somalia-bound vessels and shipments belonging to the WFP and AMISOM, as well as select other vulnerable shipments. In addition, Operation Atalanta monitors fishing activity on the regional seaboard.[5] In 2012, the scope of the mission expanded to include Somali coastal territories and internal waters so as to co-ordinate counter-piracy operations with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and regional administrations.[6] On 16 July 2012, the EU also mandated the EUCAP Nestor mission to build up the maritime capacity of regional navies.[7]

It is part of a larger global action by the EU to prevent and combat acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean. It cooperates with the multinational Combined Task Force 151 of the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and NATO's anti-terrorism Operation Ocean Shield.

Overview[edit]

Under EU Council Joint Action 851, which is based on various UN resolutions, Operation ATALANTA:

  • Protects vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP), African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other vulnerable shipping;
  • Deters and disrupts piracy and armed robbery at sea;
  • Monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia;
  • Supports other EU missions and international organisations working to strengthen maritime security and capacity in the region.[5]

On 21 November 2014 the Council of the EU extended the Mandate of Operation ATALANTA until December 2016.[5]

Located within the Headquarters of Operation ATALANTA is the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), an initiative established by the European Union Naval Force, with close co-operation from industry. The MSCHOA centre provides 24-hour manned monitoring of vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden, whilst the provision of an interactive website enables the Centre to communicate the latest anti-piracy guidance to industry and for Shipping Companies and operators to register their movements through the region.[8]

Participation in EU NAVFOR goes beyond EU member states. Norway was the first non-EU country to contribute to the Operation, with a warship in 2009. Thereafter, Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine have provided staff officers to the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) and Force Headquarters (FHQ). Ukraine contributed a warship early in 2014, and New Zealand contributed an MPRA asset later the same year.[5][9]

Around 1,200 personnel are involved in ATALANTA,[9] with the size of the force typically varying between 4-6 surface combat vessels and 2-3 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. For 2015 and 2016, the budget for each year will be €7.35 million for the common costs of the mandate.[5]

Judicial international cooperation to end impunity[edit]

Piracy has to be understood as organised criminal activity occurring at sea. It is organised on land, with kidnapping crews and ships for ransom as the business model. Prosecution of piracy suspects is a key component of the overall fight against piracy. The EU NAVFOR seeks, where possible, a legal finish. Transfers of suspect pirates for trial to competent authorities remain necessary to put an end to impunity in the Indian Ocean.

The EU is assisting the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in their work to establish sufficient conditions to allow fair and efficient piracy trials in Somalia. The EU is the largest contributor to the UNODC counter-piracy programme. In the short term, transfers for trial from EU NAVFOR ships remain necessary to put an end to impunity in the Indian Ocean.

Prelude[edit]

The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia wrote to the President of the United Nations Security Council asking for international help to fight piracy and armed robbery against ships off the coast of Somalia. In June 2008, the Council unanimously passed Resolution 1816 authorising nations that have the agreement of the Transitional Federal Government to enter Somali territorial waters to deal with pirates.[10] The measure, which was sponsored by France, the United States and Panama, was to last six months. France initially wanted the resolution to include other regions with pirate problems, such as West Africa, but were opposed by Vietnam, Libya and China, who wanted the sovereignty infringement limited to Somalia.[11]

Operational Highlights[edit]

On 2 January 2009, one of the Operation's ships captured eight pirates who were about to board a ship.[12]

On 14 April 2009, the French frigate Nivôse attached to Operation Atalanta, captured 11 suspected pirates, together with their mother ship and two skiffs, in an EU NAVFOR focused operation carried out in the Indian Ocean. The French ship responded to the distress message by the 21,000 tonne Liberia flagged MV Safmarine Asia which came under small arms and RPG attack from two skiffs operating from a pirate mother ship. The warship deployed its helicopter, which quickly arrived on the scene, to deter the hijacking and shadow the mother vessel until the frigate arrived.[13]

On 26 May 2009, the EU Naval Task Force vessel HMS Malmö responded to a distress call from the European cargo vessel M/V Antonis and apprehended seven suspected pirates.[14][15]

From 5 to 7 March 2010, forces from France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden were in action; the French frigate Nivôse (F 732) secured its "biggest seizure" to-date in a vital shipping lane off the coast of Somalia, with 35 pirates arrested and four mother ships seized in three days.[16]

In May 2010, there were a number of incidents in the area. The Russian destroyer Marshal Shaposhnikov freed the 106,474-ton MV Moscow University, which was about 350 miles east of Socotra, transporting crude oil from Sudan to China.[17] Two days later, however, Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had proved impossible to establish the pirates’ citizenship or to establish legal grounds for prosecuting, therefore the pirates were returned to their boat and set free.[18] In another incident, a Swedish aircraft attached to the EU Naval Force, the French warship Lafayette and the Dutch warship HNLMS Johan de Witt collaborated in the spotting and capturing of a pirate action group composed of a whaler and two skiffs, about 400 miles northwest of the Seychelles Islands. Reports on these incidents, citing other news reports, concluded that pirates were holding almost 20 vessels and about 300 crew members.[17]

On 15 May 2012, EU naval forces conducted their first raid on pirate bases on the Somalia mainland as part of the operation, saying they 'destroyed several boats'. The forces were transported by helicopter to the pirate bases near the port of Harardhere. The attack was carried out overnight, and, according to the European forces, no local residents were hurt during the mission.[19]

Deployed Units[edit]

Vessels[edit]

The following vessels are part of EU NAVFOR's current fleet in Operation Atalanta, as of 31 December 2014.[20] Operation Atalanta has the task force designator Task Force 465.[21]

Country Vessel Type Helicopter
 Spain ESPS Galicia (L51) Landing Platform Dock
 Germany FGS Bayern (F 221) Sachsen class frigate Lynx Mk.88A
 Italy ITS Grecale (F 571) Maestrale class frigate AB212
 Spain ESPS Infanta Cristina (P77) Patrol Descubierta None

Aircraft[edit]

As of 31 December 2014 the following aircraft are currently deployed with the European Union Naval Force - Operation Atalanta.[22]

Country Aircraft Type
 Spain CASA CN 235 VIGMA Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft

Vessels and aircraft in former rotation periods[edit]

ITS Maestrale frigate.

The following vessels have, among others, been committed to the Operation as of 25 February 2015.[23] [24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.infodefensa.com/latam/2015/03/25/noticia-chile-enviara-barco-indico-participar-operacion-atalanta.html. Retrieved 8 April 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Colombia se une a la operación multinacional Atalanta-2015". infodefensa.com. 10 March 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "EU naval operation against piracy (EUNAVFOR Somalia - Operation ATALANTA)" (PDF). EU Council Secretariat. 26 November 2012. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Serbian Detachment Completes Protection Of World Food Programme Ship MV Caroline Scan As Part Of EU Naval Force". 5 March 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Mission". EU NAVFOR Public Affairs Office. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "EU Extends Counter-piracy Operations Off Somalia By Two More Years". RTT News. 23 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "GGI Analysis: The Somali crisis and the EU". Global Governance Institute. 24 July 2012. 
  8. ^ MSCHOA: About us
  9. ^ a b "Lithuania will take part in the EU counterpiracy Operation ATALANTA". Ministry of National Defense Republic of Lithuania. 4 January 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011. 
  10. ^ United Nations Security Council Verbatim Report 5902. S/PV/5902 2 June 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2008.
  11. ^ " Navies to tackle Somali pirates", BBC News, 2 June 2008
  12. ^ "France captures 'Somali pirates'", BBC News, 2 January 2009
  13. ^ Maritime Security Centre (EU)
  14. ^ Dagens Nyheter Video
  15. ^ The Local: Swedish navy arrests pirates off Somali coast
  16. ^ "European naval forces capture more pirates". Independent Online (South Africa). 9 March 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2010. Six pirate action groups have been intercepted, mother ships and skiffs have been destroyed and over 40 pirates have been taken into custody 
  17. ^ a b "Russian Destroyer Frees Hijacked Oil Tanker" by Alan Cowell with reporting by Mark McDonald from Hong Kong, The New York Times, 6 May 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010. An EU-NAVFOR press release on the Russian action was cited in the article.
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External links[edit]