The past four weeks has seen an EU Naval Force (EUNavFor) autonomous vessel protection detachment (AVPD) from Serbia embarked aboard the World Food Programme (WFP) chartered vessel MV Douro.
The deployment is not the first of its type since EUNavFor’s Operation Atalanta started anti- and counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia in December 2008. January 2012 saw the first AVPD deployed to protect long-term charter vessels such as the MV Douro allowing more flexibility for the tasking of warships and ensuring protection for the WFP vessel.
The 12-strong Serbian AVPD will remain aboard the Douro for the next three months.
The Serbian team, which includes a medic, are living and working with the MV Douro crew. They are responsible for protecting the vessel at sea and also conduct daily training and various exercises to ensure readiness for response to any threat which might arise.
EUNavFor Operations Commander, Major General Martin Smith, visited the Serbian team and told them their work was crucial to ensuring food aid reaches the people of Somalia.
“I am proud of the task this detachment will perform – it is one way in which we can help WFP make a difference to the lives of people in desperate need. I’m also delighted to see Serbia, although not part of the EU, operating within Operation Atalanta; a unique co-operation.”
As of October 9, EUNavFor has successfully protected WFP chartered ships carrying more than 910 000 tons of humanitarian aid in five years.