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Contingent Turnover at Spanish Air Force's Detachment 'Orion'

September 20, 2021
  • The 41st Spanish contingent within the 'Orion' Detachment begins operations in the Indian Ocean

 The 41st Spanish Contingent in the European Union's Operation Atlanta takes over at Air Base 188 in Djibouti, on a ceremony chaired by Colonel Fernando Raimundo Martínez, on behalf of the Operations Command's Commander.

On a short ceremony, outgoing lieutenant colonel Juan Pedro Velázquez-Gaztelu Fernández de la Puente handed over the command of the Detachment to Lieutenant Colonel José María Santé Abal; ending the mission of the 40th contingent after 4 months of deployment, in which the maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft P-3 Orion has covered more than 40,000 miles along the coast of the Indian Ocean in the framework of Operation Atalanta.

Operation Atalanta

Operation Atalanta is part of Spain's commitment, under the flag of the European Union, to maintain maritime security off the coast of Somalia and neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean region.

The increasing number of piracy actions in the Indian Ocean from 2005 on led the UN Security Council to pass several Resolutions to protect maritime traffic in the area. To support these resolutions, the Council of the European Union approved, on 10 November 2008, the establishment of a naval and air force. This was the first EU maritime operation to be conducted in the framework of the CSDP. Shortly afterwards, this operation was launched.

Spain's contribution includes maritime surveillance actions to counter piracy, monitoring fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and ensuring the delivery of supplies from the World Food Programme (WFP).

Spain contributes permanently with a Tactical Air Detachment (DAT) Orion belonging to the Air Force, equipped with a P-3 Orion surveillance, maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft deployed in Djibouti, with 57 airmen. Navy vessels, carrying an air unit and operational Marines as a security teams. In addition, Spain is currently providing the International Military Staff (FHQ) on board the frigate Navarra.

Along with the aforementioned resources, in March 2019, Spain assumed the lead of Operation Atalanta from the ES-OHQ located in Rota.