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Deputy Operation Commander of EU Naval Force Operational headquarters visits Orion detachment

March 23, 2023
  • The Rear Admiral had the opportunity to test the capabilities of the D4 VIGMA in the field

Rear Admiral Hilaire Ducellier, current Deputy Operation Commander (DCOM) of Operation Atalanta, visited the Orion Detachment. He had the opportunity to take a closer look at the currently deployed D4 VIGMA, which has replaced the P3 Orion that was deployed until last year in support of Operation Atalanta.

During the visit, he was briefed on the capabilities and characteristics of the aircraft, as well as the work carried out by the detachment. The crew showed him on the ground the aircraft's systems and the work they carry out in support of the missions entrusted to them.

Before concluding the visit and signing the Book of Authorities, the Rear Admiral addressed the contingent to thank them for the effort and professionalism of the personnel deployed in the area. He reminded them that "We are the eyes of the Atalanta Operation and a global security provider".

Operation Atalanta', under the European Union flag, is part of the Spanish commitment in the 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. In support of these dispositions, 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 CSDP. Shortly afterwards, this operation was launched.

The Spanish commitment has been total from the beginning of the operation, materialising in maritime surveillance missions to prevent and intervene to put an end to acts of piracy and collaborating in the surveillance of illegal activities off the coast of Somalia.

Subsequently, and since the enforcement of Decision (CFSP) 2020/2018, which extends the mandate of Operation Atalanta, the missions entrusted have been extended to include the surveillance of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the trafficking of drugs, arms and charcoal. All this reinforces Atalanta's role as a maritime security factor in the area, being key to the successful fight against piracy and the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) vessels and other vulnerable vessels.

The new EU mandate extends the area of operation to the Red Sea and also includes the fight against illegal trafficking and the cooperation with other operations.

The Spanish permanent contribution consists of the following elements:

  • Detachment Orion of the Air and Space Army, equipped with a D-4 VIGMA maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPA version of the CN-235 aircraft) deployed in Djibouti, with 49 military contingents.
  • Navy vessels, which have an airborne air unit and operational Marine Corps security teams.
  • In March 2019, Spain assumed the leadership of 'Operation Atalanta' from the Spanish Headquarters (ES-OHQ) in Rota.