At the French base BA188 in Djibouti, where the Spanish contingent operates the P-3 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, a ceremony was held to present the Common Security and Defence Policy decorations, in the framework of Operation Atalanta, to the personnel of the 40th contingent and 76th rotation of the Orion Detachment. The decoration acknowledges their work within Operation Atalanta.
The ceremony was presided over by Detachment Orion's Force Commander, lieutenant colonel Juan Pedro Velázquez-Gaztelu Fernández De la Puente, who reviewed the Spanish troops before the ceremony got started.
After hoisting the national flag, the Operation Atalanta decorations were presented to the awarded servicemen. The Force Commander conveyed his compliments to all awarded military personnel, highlighting the effort and dedication of the entire contingent.
The Air Force's anthem was played, ending with a tribute to those who gave their lives at Spain's service.
The presence of the Spanish Air Force within the framework of the European Union's Operation Atlanta, is made up of a P-3 'Orion' aircraft and 57 military personnel, deployed continuously in Djibouti since the beginning of the operation in 2008.
European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) patrols a wide area between the Gulf of Aden and the Seychelles.
The Operation's main goal is maritime presence and surveillance on the western Indian Ocean, especially for UN World Food Programme vessels. In addition, it also provides protection to fishing boats operating in the area, monitoring the ports and bases from where pirates operate and countering the mother ships used by pirates to reach the open sea.
The information gathered by the Spanish aircraft is forwarded to the Force Headquarters (FHQ), embarked on the Operation's flagship (currently the Italian frigate Carabinieri), and to the Operation Headquarters (OHQ), located at Rota Naval Base (Cádiz).
The work carried out by the Spanish aircraft and its capability is highly appreciated and valued by the operation's command for several reasons: speed, autonomy and also, detection and tracking possibilities. Furthermore, the issued reports disseminated to both the command post and the surface units are a key factor in the planning, decision-making and execution of Operation Atalanta.