This month (December) marks the ninth anniversary of EU Naval Force Somalia’s Operation Atalanta, the specialist counter- piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin.
The anniversary comes hard on the heels of EU NavFor successfully apprehending, detaining and transferring suspected pirates for judicial process in the Seychelles.
During the past eight years, Operation Atalanta’s mission has had four major aims.
Firstly, the mission provides close escort protection by EU NavFor warships to World Food Programme (WFP) shipments of food from Mombasa into Somalia. Secondly, the mission deters and disrupts piracy in the Gulf of Aden and along the Somalia Coast. Thirdly, it protects vulnerable shipping transiting through dangerous and precarious sea lanes. Finally EU NavFor continues to monitor fishing activities in the region.
Operation Atalanta has achieved much, including establishment of an International Recognised Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden. Other positive developments include International agreements allowing regional prosecution of pirates from Kenya and Seychelles and other states as well as the Shared Awareness and De-confliction Conferences (SHADE) that have been successful in bringing together national navies not normally associated with the EU, NATO or the Combined Maritime Force (CMF).
EU NavFor plays a vital role in encouraging the international community to respond positively and proactively to piracy; recent engagements have included visits from a Chinese delegation at sea as part of Task Force ETG171.