Monthly Archives: April 2016

Interview with Major General Martin Smith, Operation Commander European Union Naval Force Somalia

With a great honour we present, an exclusive interview with the Operation Commander of the European Naval Force in Somalia,  Major General Martin Smith, on the legendary Triumph of the European Union Naval Force in ATALANTA.

                                         Major General SMITH, Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force 2016Major General Martin SMITH, the Commander of European Union Naval Force in Operation Atalanta, during a press briefing in Brussels 2016 © European Union


Q: The EU NAVFOR has achieved a resonating success, in its ongoing Operation. Yet the final outcomes requires a longer commitment of the EU Naval Force— that to imply the extension of its Mandate beyond 2016.

  • To what extend would you agree?

Major General Martin Smith: Over the coming months we will continue to work with WFP, Maritime Industry, counter-piracy partners, international organisations and regional states to assess the threat to shipping transiting off Somalia, and what type and level of security measures will be required post 2016 to ensure that piracy does not once again return to those waters. As you can see from a press release from the ‘Council of European Union’ Following a comprehensive review of this engagement, the Council confirms its intention to extend the mandates of the three CSDP  missions and operation until December 2018, with a view to further enhancing the EU’s Comprehensive Approach in Somalia and the Horn of Africa, in particular the security-development nexus. In this regard, the EU reiterates its resolve to implement as soon as possible its initiative for Capacity Building in support of Security and Development (CBSD).’

  • Please give us an overview of the Operational success up to present time.

Major General Martin Smith: At height of piracy in January 2011, 736 hostages & 32 ships were held from ransom.  As I speak to you today, there are still 26 hostages, but no ships are held.  If you look at factors such as intent, capability and opportunity, Operation Atalanta and the other counter-piracy task forces have, through close coordination, successfully deterred and disrupted pirates at sea and significantly reduced their opportunity to attack ships. 

The self-protection measures, Best Management Practice (BMP), employed by the Shipping Industry and their use of private armed security teams have also had a significant impact, as they have made it very difficult for the pirates to get on board and take a ship for ransom.

The legal process used by the EU to prosecute suspected pirates has also proven to be a notable deterrent, as pirates know that there could be a high price to pay if they go out to sea to attack ships. 

The EU operates a ‘detain and prosecute policy’.  We will always seek, where possible, a legal finish.  Legal handovers are made on the advice of the capturing nation’s Foreign Affairs Department and on the understanding that detainees would receive a fair trial and be treated appropriately. 

We assess pirates still have intent and capability, so International Community must remain vigilant.

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