Overall command of the EU Naval Force (EU Navfor) anti-piracy Operation Atalanta now rests in the capable hands of Rear Admiral Jurgen zur Muhlen of the German Navy.
He took over command on Sunday, replacing France’s Rear Admiral Herve Blejean during a ceremony on FS Siroco, the outgoing flagship, in the port of Djibouti. The new Atalanta flagship is FGS Brandenburg.
Blejean thanked force headquarters staff, commanding officers and crews of all the units under his command, including the flagship.
“Without their constant hard work and professionalism my successful four month tenure could not have been achieved,” he said before wishing his successor all the best for his four months at the helm of the force, which has as its primary task the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) vessels bringing much needed food supplies to East Africa.
Force deputy operational commander, Rear Admiral Bartolome Bauza congratulated the outgoing commander on a job well done.
“Under his leadership the task force has prevented any successful pirate attacks and secured the arrest of five suspected pirates. During his tenure WFP delivered much needed food to Somalia under the protection of EUNavFor. The flagship also conducted two successful key leader engagements with Somaliland and Puntland as well as successful exercises with other counter-piracy forces. ”
Of the task ahead of him the new force commander said: “Since 2008 there have been no successful attacks against WFP vessels. We have seen the pictures from the media of Somali people and refugees suffering from famine. EUNavFor contributes significantly to reduce this humanitarian crisis by protecting WFP vessels.
“EUNavFor will continue to protect vulnerable shipping against pirate attacks. Under my command the task force will continue to support the EU’s comprehensive approach by working with EUCAP Nestor and other EU initiatives in the region.”
Prior to taking over command of Atalanta, zur Muhlen was commander of the German Flotilla Two in Wilhelmshaven.
As Force Commander, he exercises command and control of all military forces in Atalanta’s area of operations.