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 Deployments and operations

EU Operation Atalanta

COUNTERING PIRACY OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA
UE-EUNAVFOR-SOM-ATALANTA-Indico

Spanish misión

Operation Atalanta is part of the commitment undertaken by Spain, under the EU flag, in its effort to maintain security in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia waters, by protecting the World Food Programme protecting the ships of the World Food Programme, the ships of the UN misión for Somalia (AMISOM) and maintaining the security of vulnerable maritime traffic..

The transfer of the Operational Headquarters (OHQ) from the British city of Northwood to the Rota Naval Base, in Cadiz, was formalized on  the March 29, 2019, following the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Since its beginning in 2008, Operation Atalanta contributes to increase security in the Indian Ocean. For that purpose, it executes maritime surveillance activities with the aim of preventing and stopping possible acts of piracy; it collaborates in monitoring fishing activities in the Somali coast and assures food delivery from the World Food Programme (WFP). Spain, since its inception, has continuously participated in this mission by providing several naval and air resources to the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR).

The amphibious assault vessel (BBA) “Castilla”, with Embarked Air Unit (UNAEMB in Spanish) of two helicopters SH-60B/F, was deployed. Besides, the Embarked International Staff (Force Headquarters, FHQ) of the operation is on board the Armed Forces ship. Afterwards, the BAM (Maritime Action Ship) “Relámpago” was deployed to the area until 10th March 2019, being taken over by the Spanish frigate Navarra (F85).

The Commander of the Operation is in charge of the OHQ, ready to be employed at any time and to exercise command of any operation or mision under the Common Security and Defence Policy. This command has been assumed by the Spanish Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave.

Spain has on several occasions assumed command of the Force Headquarters (FHQ) of the European Union Naval Operation in the Indian Ocean from the ship deployed in the area. This command has been firstly assumed by the Counter Admiral Alfonso Pérez de Nanclares, and starting March 2018 by the Rear Admiral Ricardo Atanasio Hernández López.

Spain also contributes to the Operation Atalanta with the Orión Detachment in Yibuti, with around 50 soldiers.

Until 2019, the Spanish Armed Forces have assumed command of the 'Atalanta' force on up to nine occasions since its inception more tan a decade ago, a sign of this firm commitment to defend national and international interest in the area. Regarding the ship,  this the third time that it is deployed in this mission, after intervening in 2009 and 2015, and the first time it does so as Command Ship.

The increase in acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean from 2005 led the United Nations Security Council to adopt a set of resolutions to protect maritime traffic in this area.

To support these provisions, the Council of the European Union approved, on 10 November 2008, the creation of a naval air force. This was the first maritime operation by the European Union under the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy. Shortly afterwards, Atalanta was launched.

The deployment of a Spanish contingent to the area was passed by Congress o on January 21st, 2009. Two days later, the Council of Ministers approved Spain´s participation in the operation.

The Indian Ocean had become a high-risk area for the 20,000 boats that annually cross the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, obligatory crossings of the main trade routes between Asia and Europe. Somali piracy also threatened the delivery of humanitarian aid from the UN World Food Programme.

In 2008, there were 134 attacks and 40 ship hijackings, including the Spanish fishing vessel 'Playa de Bakio', highlighting that piracy was also a threat to the activity of the tuna fleet.

At the request of Spain and France, on December 8th, 2008, the European Union Council launched Operation Atalanta.

 2020

  • September 20. Un P3 del Grupo 22 despega de Yibuti con el personal de la 71 rotación del Destacamento Orión, rumbo a territorio nacional, tras realizar las misiones asignadas dentro del marco de la Operación Atalanta.
  • September 20. Un A310 del Grupo 45 aterriza en Yibuti con el personal del 38º contingente del Destacamento Orión, donde realizará las misiones asignadas dentro del marco de la Operación Atalanta.
  • August 27th. Relevo del mando de la Fuerza de la "Operación Atalanta". El contralmirante Ignacio Villanueva pasa el testigo a su homólogo italiano que ejercerá como comandante desde la fragata "Luigi Rizzo"
  • July 26th. A P3 airplane from Spain lands in Djibouti carrying airmen belonging to the 71st rotation of Detachment 'ORION' to keep carrying out their duties within Operation 'ATALANTA'.
  • May 27th. The 37th contingent of Detachment 'ORION' takes over within Operation ‘ATALANTA’.  Spanish Armed Forces keep their commitment with the 'ATALANTA' despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • May 6th. Spain takes command of Operation ‘ATALANTA’. Rear Admiral Ignacio Villanueva Serrano takes over from the Spanish frigate ‘Numancia’.
  • February 17. The frigate 'Numancia' took over from the 'Victory' in Djibouti. This is the third time that this Navy vessel is deployed in the European Union operation.
  • February 4. Orion detachment, deployed in Djibouti; transfer of authority between the 68th and 69th rotations.

2019

  • July 24. The 35th Contingent takes full responsibility for the “Orión” detachment in Yibuti.
  • July 23. “Canarias” frigate takes over from “Navarra” frigate.
  • March 27. The 34th Contingent of the Spanish Air Force Orión Detachment has taken over command in Djibouti. The new contingent, whose relief overlaps the 64th rotation, is composed by 60 soldiers and is under the command of Lieutenant colonel Jaime Peñuela, replacing Lieutenant colonel Marín Rodríguez.
  • On 10th March, FFG (F85) “Navarra” frigate is deployed, taking over from “Relámpago” meteoro-class offshore patrol vessel (BAM in Spanish). From 10th March to 23rd July, Spain has taken over the command of the Force Headquarters (FHQ) from the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean Operation, leading from the F-85 Navarra, under the command of Rear Admiral Ricardo Atanasio Hernández López.

2018

  • December 6. “Relámpago” meteoro-class offshore patrol vessel (BAM) takes over from “Castilla” amphibious assault ship (BAA in Spanish), and it has been integrated into the European Union Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) for its participation in operation Atalanta against piracy. “Relámpago” has stayed in the area of operations in the Indian Ocean until March.
  • August 6. Spain takes over the Force command by using the amphibious assault ship as a command ship.
  • July 30. The EU Council extends the command of operation Atalanta, EU NAVFOR Somalia until 31st December 2020. On 29th March 2019, the Council also decided to relocate the operating headquarters of the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) from Northwood (UK) to Rota (Spain). On the same date, Vice admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave of the Spanish Army was appointed as the new Operation Commander. Both the relocation and change of command were necessary due to the UK decision to leave the EU.
  • April 23. “Meteoro” meteoro-class offshore patrol vessel (BAM), whose military base is located in the Arsenal of Las Palmas, has taken over from “Patiño” replenishment oiler (BAC in Spanish) within the framework of the operation Atalanta.

2017

  • December 28. Participation is extended till 31st December 2018. Up to 375 troops take part in the operation.
  • February 24. Spain takes the command of the operation till 27th July. “Galicia” amphibious assault ship acts as a flagship.

2015

  • April 6. Spain takes over the Force command of the operation till 6th August. “Galicia” amphibious assault ship acts as the command ship.

2012

  • December 6. Spain takes over the command of the operation till 6th April 2013. “Méndez Núñez” frigate acts as the command ship.
  • August. For the first time in the Indian Ocean, Spain deploys “Relámpago”, one of its new offshore patrol vessels.

2011

  • September 10. “Galicia” ship releases a French citizen and arrests the hijackers.
  • September 5. Spain takes over the Force command of operation Atalanta.

2010

  • December 14. Spain takes over the command of operation Atalanta.
  • February 25: Atalanta´s functions are extended, including port and pirate´s headquarters control.

2009

  • October 2. Hijacking of the Basque fishing “Alakrana”. Spain sent a frigate to the south to protect the tuna fleet.
  • April 6. Our country takes over for the first time the Force command.
  • January 23. Spain sent the first ship to the area, “Victoria” frigate.
  • January 23. The Council of Ministers approves Spanish participation in the operation.
  • January 21. The Congress of Deputies authorizes sending a Spanish contingent to Atalanta.

2008

  • December 8. Operation Atalanta is started.
  • November 10. The European Union approves the creation of a naval air force.
  • September 23. “Orión” maritime surveillance aircraft P-3 is sent by Spain to Djibouti.

 


Press Releases

  • P3 airplane takes off from BA188 Air Base in Djibouti

    Detachment 'Orion' rotates personnel and replaces the airplane

    Detachment 'Orion' rotates personnel and replaces the airplane

    2020/09/21

    Djibouti

    More information
  • Rear Admiral Villanueva visits ‘Orion’ Air Detachment in Djibouti

    Rear Admiral Villanueva visits ‘Orion’ Air Detachment in Djibouti

    Rear Admiral Villanueva visits ‘Orion’ Air Detachment in Djibouti

    2020/08/27

    Djibouti

    More information
  • Staff from detachment 'Orion' delivers medical supplies to Caritas Djibuti

    Staff from detachment 'Orion' delivers medical supplies to Caritas Djibuti

    Staff from detachment 'Orion' delivers medical supplies to Caritas Djibuti

    2020/08/10

    Djibuti

    More information