The handover ceremony was held between the 46th and 47th contingents of the Tactical Air Detachment (DAT) of the European Union's Operation 'Atalanta'. The ceremony was presided over by Colonel Ignacio Lanzat Lacour, on behalf of the Operations Command (MOPS), and was attended by the Spanish Ambassador to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Seychelles, as well as other civilian and military authorities from the European Union, the United States, Spain, France, Italy and Japan.
At the ceremony, the outgoing Force Commander Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Rodríguez Sacristán handed over command of the Detachment to Commander Victor Martínez Aisa, bringing the mission of the 46th contingent to an end after three months of deployment in the inter-monsoon period when the D4 VIGMA has been operating. The aircraft has already returned to national territory after completing its last operational mission in the Horn of Africa.
In his speech Colonel Lanzat addressed the staff, highlighting the work done by the outgoing contingent which has been recognised by the Operation Atalanta chain of command. He also expressed appreciation for the support provided by the Orion Detachment to the evacuation of civilian personnel during the Sudan crisis. Colonel Lanzat encouraged the incoming contingent to continue to maintain the recognition and prestige of the Air and Space Army and the Spanish Armed Forces in 'Atalanta'.
Operation Atalanta is part of Spain's commitment, under the European Union flag, to maintain maritime security off the coast 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 provisions, 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.
Spain's commitment from the beginning of the operation has been total, 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.