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Operation Atalanta's Orion Detachment troop replacement

In Djibouti
May 18, 2022
  • • The 43rd Contingent begins surveillance and reconnaissance in the Indian Ocean

The 43rd contingent of the Tactical Air Detachment (DAT) in the European Union's Operation Atalanta was handed over at Air Base 188 in Djibouti. The event was presided over by Colonel Fernando Raimundo Martínez, from the Operations Command General Staff.

At the ceremony, the outgoing Lieutenant Colonel Miguel Durán Gálvez handed over command of the Detachment to Lieutenant Colonel Francisco José Vela García. This marks the end of the 42nd contingent's mission after 4 months of deployment, during which the P-3 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft covered more than 22,000 miles along the Indian Ocean coast as part of Operation Atalanta.

In his speech, Colonel Raimundo Fernández thanked the Force Commander of the 42nd contingent for the efforts of all the personnel who took part, thus contributing to maritime safety and freedom of navigation

About Operation Atalanta

Operation Atalanta is part of the commitment made by Spain, under the flag of the European Union, in its fight to maintain maritime security off the coasts of Somalia and neighbouring countries in the Indian Ocean region.

The increase in acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean since 2005 led the UN Security Council to adopt a series of Resolutions to protect maritime traffic in the area. To support these provisions, the Council of the European Union approved, on 10 November 2008, the creation of a naval air force. This was the first EU maritime operation to be conducted in the framework of the PCSD. Shortly afterwards, this operation was launched.

Spain's contribution takes the form of maritime surveillance actions aimed at preventing and intervening to put an end to acts of piracy, collaborating in the surveillance of illegal activities off the coast of Somalia.

Since the entry into force of Decision (PESC) 2020/2018, which extends the mandate of Operation Atalanta, some tasks such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and trafficking in drugs, arms and charcoal have been included, reinforcing Atalanta's role as a factor of maritime security in the area and based on its success in the fight against piracy and the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) ships and other vulnerable vessels.

Spain contributes, on a permanent basis, with the following assets:

  • Air Force DAT Orion, equipped with a P-3 Orion maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft deployed in Djibouti, with 59 military personnel.
  • Navy ships, which have an embarked air unit and operational security teams from the Marines.
  • Along with the aforementioned assets, in March 2019, Spain assumed leadership of Operation Atalanta from the Spanish Headquarters (ES-OHQ) in Rota.