The handover ceremony between the 44th and 45th contingents of the Tactical Air Detachment (DAT) in the framework of the EU 'Operation Atalanta' - under national operational control of the Operations Command - was held at Air Base 188 in Djibouti.
The ceremony was presided over by Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Luis Pablo Asensio, as outgoing Force Commander, and was attended by civilian and military authorities from the European Union, United States, France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, South Korea and Djibouti.
The outgoing Lieutenant Colonel handed over command of the Detachment to Commander Urbano Sánchez Garcés, bringing the 44th contingent's mission to an end after 3 months of deployment. During this time, the P-3 Orion -maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft- has covered more than 41,000 miles along the coast of the Indian Ocean as part of Operation Atalanta.
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 air force. This was the first EU maritime operation to be conducted in the framework of the CSDP. This operation was launched shortly afterwards.
Spain's contribution takes the form of maritime surveillance actions aimed at preventing and intervening to put an end to acts of piracy, thus collaborating in the surveillance of illegal activities off the coast of Somalia.
Since the entry into force of Decision (CFSP) 2020/2018, which extends the mandate of Operation Atalanta, tasks have been expanded to include the surveillance of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and trafficking in drugs, arms and charcoal, which reinforces Atalanta's role as a factor of maritime security in the area, being key to the successful fight against piracy and the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) ships and other vulnerable vessels.