The Spanish contribution to the EU NavFor Operation Atalanta off the horn of Africa has, in addition to providing airborne protection to WFP vessels and other ships, extended to replenishment at sea (RAS).
A Seahawk SH60B embarked on the Spanish warship ESPD Patiño was part of a successful counter-piracy mission soon after becoming part of the Atalanta fleet in December.
The helicopter can conduct up to six hours of flight operations daily. It provides the warship with the ability to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance operations of suspected pirate vessels, medical evacuation and boarding team insertion, as well as gunnery air support and the ship to ship transfer of supplies.
Patiño’s helicopter is part of the 10th Squadron based at Rota Naval Base. The aircrew, three pilots and two sensor operators, are supported by 15 embarked aircraft mechanics who keep the helicopter fully operational and ready for counter-piracy operations 24 hours a day.
Patiño also supported the combined maritime forces off the Horn of Africa by rendezvousing with an Australian and Pakistani warships and conducting RAS.
HMAS Warramunga of CTF150 and Pakistan Navy Ship Aslat of CTF151 took on board a total of 390 cubic metres of fuel essential for continuation of maritime security in the region. This is equivalent to filling a 60 litre car petrol tank 6 500 times and equates to 789 years of fuel for the average European motorist or 256 journeys around the circumference of the Earth.
ESPS Patiño has been the lead warship of EU NAVFOR conducting counter-piracy operations off the Somalia Coast since December 6, assisting international merchant ships transiting sea lanes around the Horn of Africa. Her Seahawk SH-60 Helicopter is vital in searching and interdicting pirate activity and is also used for rapid transport of personnel and vertical replenishment between ships as and when required.