Spanish frigate escorts WFP ship as a welcome to new EU Naval Force commander


As part of her counter-piracy role with the EU Naval Force, Spanish frigate ESPS Navarra has completed an escort at sea of a World Food Programme (WFP) vessel along the coast of Somalia.

The merchant vessel’s ports of call were Kismayo and Mogadishu both in Somalia. Both cities are used as distribution bases to organise food aid deliveries to displaced persons in the region.

The captain of the WFP vessel expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the assistance given by EU Naval Force warships to help keep WFP ships safe from pirate attack.

The EU Force Commander, Rear Admiral Jürgen zur Muhlen, in one of his final official duties, spoke to ESPS Navarra’s ship’s company on completion of this latest EU Naval Force escort duty.
“Thanks to your efforts, this WFP vessel arrived safely on the coast of Mogadishu, thus adding to EU Naval Force’s success story of protecting WFP vessels in the piracy high risk area. WFP has delivered more than two million tons of humanitarian goods to suffering people in Somalia since 2008. Well done ESPS Navarra.”

Just 48 hours after thanking the Navarra ship’s company, zur Muhlen handed over command of the Operation Atalanta task force to Rear Admiral Guido Rando of the Italian Navy.

For the last four months Rear Admiral zur Muhlen and his international military staff of 32 men and women have been embarked on board FGS Brandenburg off the coast of Somalia. From there they have deployed EU Naval Force warships, helicopters and maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to ensure that seafarers remained as safe as possible from pirate attack.

A key role for EU Naval Force warships is to escort World Food Programme (WFP) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Since the EU Naval Force was launched in December 2008 every WFP ship has remained safe and over the past four months 15 WFP vessels have delivered 900,000 tons of aid to displaced people in Somalia.

The new force commander said: “EU Naval Force will continue to protect vulnerable shipping against pirate attacks and it will also support the EU comprehensive approach by working with other EU initiatives in the region”.

Rando currently has four EU warships and more than 1 000 military personnel in his force, which also boasts an airborne component in the form of maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters.