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Somalia: Spain Takes Over UK Maritime Duties Combating Piracy Off Somalia

Insurance Marine News
Tuesday April 2, 2019

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 Spain took over from the UK the command of Operation Atalanta, a European Union maritime mission that combats piracy off the coast of Somalia.

Spanish vice admiral Antonio Martorell relieved UK major general Charlie Strickland as commander of Operation Atalanta during a ceremony held at the Rota naval base in southern Spain, where US troop are also stationed.

The ceremony was held on the day that the UK was originally set to leave the EU.

Strickland said during the ceremony that “it is honestly a sad day for the UK … but it is an exciting day for Spain. Atalanta is so much more than ships in the Indian Ocean and aircrafts in the skies. Atalanta is a sophisticated multilayered operation using hard and soft power to continue to suppress piracy and to take a powerful role in the broader security architecture of this key region of the world.”

The EC announced in July last year that it would transfer the headquarters of Atalanta, which employs 101 people from Northwood, near London to Rota.

France’s naval base in Brest has become the headquarters of the Maritime Security Centre of Africa which was also based in Northwood. The EU launched Atalanta in 2008 to fight acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia The number of attacks off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean has fallen from a peak of 176 in 2011 to just two in 2018.

The EU has extended Operation Atalanta to 2020 with a budget of €12m for 2019 and 2020. Italy had also sought to win the headquarters of Atalanta, basing it in Rome.


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