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EU Names New Chief For Anti-Piracy Force Deployed Off Somalia

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The European Union's Political and Security Committee on Tuesday announced the appointment of Rear Admiral Robert Tarrant as the new Operation Commander for the EU Naval Force Somalia - Operation Atalanta, which aims to prevent piracy and armed robbery off the Somali Coast and in the Indian Ocean.

"Rear Admiral Robert Tarrant of the UK Royal Navy will take up the post of Operation Commander of Operation Atalanta on 16 January 2013," the Committee said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Tarrant replaces Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, who has commanded the EU's counter piracy mission since 15 June 2011.

Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 under the Common Security and Defense Policy and is part of the EU's comprehensive approach for a peaceful, stable and democratic Somalia.

"The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Program delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia and shipping of the African Union mission in Somalia (AMISOM)," the statement added.

On March 23, the European Council had extended the mandate of the counter-piracy operation Atalanta until December 2014. It also decided to extend the force's area of operations to include Somalia's coastal territory as well as its territorial and internal waters for carrying out focused actions to "disrupt pirate logistical dumps."

Four months later, the Council approved the launch of a new civilian Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) mission, EUCAP Nestor, to support regional maritime capacity-building in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean states.

The new mission has two main objectives: strengthening the sea-going maritime capacities in the countries of the region (with the exception of Somalia) and, in Somalia, the training of a coastal police force as well as of judges. It will give expert advice on legal, policy and operational matters concerning maritime security, deliver coast guard training and help to procure the necessary equipment.

Somalia's coastline, particularly the Gulf of Aden, has been infested with pirates in recent years. Pirates are presently believed to be holding at least ten ships and more than 200 hostages. The incidents mostly end with payment of huge ransom after lengthy negotiations, but generally without any fatalities.

Pirate attacks off the Somali coast and in the Indian Ocean continue despite the presence of several warships deployed by navies of the NATO, the European Union, Russia, China, South Korea and India to protect cargo and cruise ships against piracy.

In recent months, pirates have extended their operations deep into the Indian Ocean to avoid interception by international anti-piracy forces patrolling the Gulf of Aden, off the Somali coast and parts of the Indian Ocean.


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