The frigate 'Santa María', integrated in Operation 'Atalanta', has participated in different exercises and collaborations with different players in the area where it is patrolling, such as the Somali Security Forces, the Seychelles Regional Operations Coordination Centre (RCOC), the Coast Guard and Special Forces of Seychelles, as well as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The Spanish Navy ship, under national operational control of the Operations Command, also participated in a sea boarding exercise, 'Sea Spirit', organised by the RCOC and sponsored by the UNODC. The exercise focused on training the Mogadishu Coast Guard (Somalia) in conducting fishing controls. Members of the Search and Inspection Unit (TVR) of the Somali Coast Guard boarded a vessel after observing the execution of the same procedure by the Spanish TVR, which boarded and seized a fishing vessel with a prohibited weapons cargo, which was simulated by the auxiliary vessel 'Tethys Supporter', Seychelles flagged.
The exercise was attended by two Somali fisheries inspectors, as well as two UNODC observers, who provided advice on national and international regulations to the coastguards.
The frigate was in permanent contact with the RCOC through the digital maritime coordination and communication platform IORIS (Indo-Pacific Regional Information Sharing), which enabled fluid communication between them to coordinate the seizure of the vessel and transfer to Port Victoria in order to hand it over to the authorities. This centre was visited by members of the ship's crew to support the training of their personnel in the use of communications equipment.
During the stay in Port Victoria, the Spanish special operations team deployed aboard the frigate carried out the 'Aldraba' exercise, consisting of a joint opposed boarding with the Seychelles special forces, in order to give advice and improve their procedures.
This kind of collaboration shows the close relationship of EUNAVFOR Somalia with players in the area of operations, and also the commitment of Spain and Europe to enhance the capabilities of local Law Enforcement Agencies and build a solid Maritime Security architecture in the Indian Ocean that can effectively tackle illicit activities.