During a routine surveillance patrol, the frigate 'Santa Maria' was assigned to escort the World Food Programme (WFP) merchant vessel 'Zehrah 1' as it crossed the waters between the coast of Somalia and the island of Socotra (Yemen).
After receiving the Force Commander's approval for the operation, the 'Santa María' proceeded to join the merchant ship in order to provide security during its transit to the south. Previously, the frigate used its 'Scan Eagle' unmanned aerial system to locate the exact position of the vessel and monitor the navigation area in order to detect possible threats.
The escort was carried out normally during the day, finishing once the vessel reached open waters. The 'Santa Maria' took the opportunity to share relevant information regarding Operation Atalanta and to invite the 'Zehrah 1' to contact EUNAVFOR force upon detection of any suspicious behaviour or activity. The frigate continued its planned patrol in the area of operations.
As stated in EU Council Decision (CFSP) 2020/2188, one of the main missions of Operation Atalanta is the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) vessels, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vessels, as well as other vulnerable vessels in the area.