New force commander as EU NavFor marks 31st rotation

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The European Union (EU) naval task force off the Horn of Africa this month marked its 31st rotation since counter-piracy operations started in December 2008.

Rear Admiral Ricardo Hernandez was welcomed as new EU NavFor commander by his predecessor, Major General Charles Stickland aboard the ESPS Navarra.

Each rotation sees a four month tour of duty for force headquarters. During this time ships and aircraft detached for duty to EU NavFor will conduct counter-piracy patrols to deter attacks. Protection of vessels carrying World Food Programme (WFP) supplies for delivery to needy people in east Africa was the original primary duty of the force. This continues along with friendly approaches to local fisherman to reassure them about security; meeting key people in the area to discuss issues and better understand the local situation as well as helping generate local maritime capability demonstrating and practising skills with local forces.

EUNavFor will also continue its co-operation and co-ordination with other maritime forces including Combined Task Force 151, based in Bahrain and part of Combined Maritime Force.

In his farewell address Stickland told force headquarters staff aboard the Navarra: “EU NavFor is more than just ships, it is a network of maritime security capability and you form the centre of this network”.