Two months have already passed since the transfer of ships in the port of Suda, and since the Force Staff of 'Operation Atalanta', commanded by Rear Admiral Juan María Ibáñez Martín, was established on board the frigate 'Reina Sofía'.
The frigate has a mixed on-board air unit made up of an AB212 helicopter from the Third Squadron and a ScanEagle UAV from the Eleventh Squadron; a Maritime Special Operations Tactical Unit and a HEALTHCARE ROLE 2 Treatment Training Unit. These resources give it the capability to conduct Maritime Security Operations, Maritime Situational Awareness, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Force Protection, opposed boarding and hostage rescue operations, among many others.
During the first half of the deployment, it has acted in compliance with the new EUNAVFOR Atalanta mandate, which seeks to establish a secure maritime environment in the Western Indian Ocean. To this end, the 'Reina Sofía' has protected World Food Programme vessels and other vulnerable vessels through constant monitoring; it has conducted surveillance of illicit trafficking in drugs, arms and charcoal; it has gathered information on illegal fishing through friendly visits to fishing vessels; and it has collaborated with the different forces and actors operating in the area, carrying out exercises with vessels from the United States, Pakistan and Oman, among others.
The EU, through 'Operation Atalanta', is supporting the establishment of a maritime security framework in the region, which allows coastal states to take charge of the risks and threats in this area. The frigate 'Reina Sofía' has also been involved in the RAVEN exercises organised by CRIMARIO-II (Critical Maritime Routes Indian Ocean), which aim to improve the effectiveness of coordination in the field of maritime security in the area of operations using the IORIS tool. It has also conducted Local Maritime Capacity Building exercises with Djibouti and Kenya, with the aim of improving the capabilities of the various local security forces.