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 Deployments and operations

Vice admiral José María Núñez Torrente takes over from admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río Jáudenes as Commander of the European Union Headquarters in Spain in Rota

Rota, Spain
April 21, 2021
  • European Union Headquarters in Spain (ES-OHQ) is responsible for EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) Somalia - Operation 'Atalanta' aimed at countering piracy in the Indian Ocean

The appointment of Vice Admiral Núñez as new Commander of ES-OHQ follows the promotion and appointment of Admiral Díaz del Río as the new Admiral Head of the Spanish Navy Fleet. It has been a short but intense tenure in which the stability of Operation Atalanta has been maintained to continue the efforts of EU NAVFOR Somalia in its mission to deter, prevent and suppress piracy in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean, as well as to protect the World Food Programme's humanitarian aid shipment to Somalia, and other vulnerable vessels in the area of operations. Admiral del Río has successfully launched the new mandate of Operation ATALANTA, which was extended by the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2021 for another two years, until December 2022.

The appointment of Vice Admiral Núñez as new Commander of ES-OHQ follows the promotion and appointment of Admiral Díaz del Río as the new Admiral Head of the Spanish Navy Fleet. It has been a short but intense tenure in which the stability of Operation Atalanta has been maintained to continue the efforts of EU NAVFOR Somalia in its mission to deter, prevent and suppress piracy in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean, as well as to protect the World Food Programme's humanitarian aid shipment to Somalia, and other vulnerable vessels in the area of operations. Admiral del Río has successfully launched the new mandate of Operation ATALANTA, which was extended by the Council of the European Union on 1 January 2021 for another two years, until December 2022.

Following the successes achieved by the operation against piracy off the coast of Somalia and taking into account the widespread criminal networks in the area, the new mandate increases the capabilities of Operation ATALANTA to contribute to enforcing international law and strengthening international maritime law, as well as supporting the enforcement of the UN arms ban, thus contributing to countering terrorist organisations and the illegal economic flows that maintain them.

Over the past 13 years, EU NAVFOR Somalia has established itself as a key player in the broader maritime security architecture in the region and continues to work hand in hand with military and civilian partners both nationally and internationally to ensure freedom of maritime transit.

ATALANTA's assets and manpower have contributed to a sharp reduction in piracy off the Somali coasts of the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean. A total of 171 suspected pirates were arrested and handed over to the appropriate African courts for trial. The so-called 'legal solution' has proved to be a powerful deterrent and is one of the major milestones in 13 years of Operation ATALANTA.

Although piracy has not yet been completely eliminated, commercial vessels can transit the region in relative safety in the knowledge that naval forces maintain a presence and can be dispatched if necessary.

Vice Admiral José María Nuñez Torrente takes over command of the ES-OHQ after a long and successful career during which he earned his Naval Aircraft Pilot's Wings with the US NAVY. He was appointed Commander of the First Squadron of the Spanish Mine Action Force and, after being promoted to Rear Admiral, appointed Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy Fleet.

"I hope to return smoothly to the pre-COVID situation, restarting contacts at all levels to improve the coordination and enhance cooperation in the region. I believe this is the best way to strengthen maritime security."  

(Vice Admiral José María Núñez Torrente).

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