Operation Atalanta now headquartered in Spain

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Just over a month since a piracy attempt was thwarted off the Horn of Africa by EU NavFor, the need for a strong maritime security presence off the east coast of Africa has again been stressed by a senior EU maritime officer.

Rear Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave said the security presence was “critical for deterrence and prevention of future incidents” ahead of a planned SA Navy anti-piracy deployment to the Mozambique Channel in June.

The EU NavFor operation commander said the April incident again showed piracy and armed robbery at sea off Somalia has not been eradicated. The South African deployment adds to maritime forces off the African east coast. It is in terms of a tripartite Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreement on anti-piracy off the east coast, particularly off Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa.

The April incident saw current EU NavFor flagship ESPS Navarra, working in close collaboration with maritime patrol aircraft, approach, intercept and board a captured fishing vessel.

At the time of the incident the Operation Atalanta administration was moving to new operational headquarters in Rota, Spain from Northwood in the United Kingdom.

The handover and transfer of command was a process that lasted nearly a year in total. After arrangements for location, staffing and training were complete, the transitional phase involved a month of parallel operational running between Northwood and Rota. Operational fluidity was maintained throughout and continues. Skilled staff—some from the previous operational HQ and some new to Operation Atalanta—maintained continuity throughout the move according to a statement.