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Operation Atalanta's 'Orion' Detachment rotates its personnel

January 17, 2022
  • The 42nd Spanish contingent of the Detachment begins its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance work in the Indian Ocean under the operational control of the Operations Command

A new contingent of men and women of our Armed Forces takes over from the Tactical Air Detachment (DAT) Orion, on this occasion the 42nd, and begins its mission in the European Union's Operation Atalanta. For this purpose, the handover ceremony was held at Air Base 188 in Djibouti, in a ceremony presided over by the head of the FHQ, Operation Atalanta, Commodoro Jôao Paulo Silva Pereira. The event was also attended, on behalf of the Commander of the Operations Command, by the Deputy Chief of Operations, General Francisco Javier Vidal Fernández.

In a simple ceremony, Lieutenant Colonel Jose María Santé Abal handed over command of the Detachment to Lieutenant Colonel. Miguel Durán Gálvez; bringing the mission of the 41st contingent to an end. It has been four months of deployment, in which the P-3 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft has covered more than 22,000 miles along the coast of the Indian Ocean as part 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.