In the exclusive interview series, this time we have the honour of hearing views from Force Commander in Operation Atalanta, Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack on the various aspects of Atalanta and its luminous success.
European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation ATALANTA
Stronger than the Colossal…..Gigantic ….the Oceanic Waves, the European Naval Force…….. in Operation ATALANTA
Special Edition Interview with Hon. VICE ADMIRAL JOSÉ M. NÚÑEZ TORRENTE, Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force Somalia Operation ATALANTA
Interview with Hon. VICE ADMIRAL JOSÉ M. NÚÑEZ TORRENTE, Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation ATALANTA
Vice Admiral, we are tremendously honored to have this interview with you. Thank you very much indeed for your time sir.
Q 1: In December 2020 the EU NAVFOR celebrated its 12 years of Operation Atalanta. Could you please briefly outline the main achieved success of this operation in the last ten years.
Hon. VICE ADMIRAL JOSÉ M. NÚÑEZ TORRENTE: When EU member states launched Operation Atalanta in December 2008, piracy in Somali waters was increasing dramatically. Container ships plying the east-west trade routes between Europe and Asia were under constant and very real threat.
Over the past 12 years, EU NAVFOR has managed to work hand in hand not only with other multinational naval forces operating in this region, such as the US-led CMF, and NATO until 2016, which is one of our most important partners in the region, but also with the navies of independently deployed nations such as Japan and South Korea, all of which have significant maritime interests present. As a result, piracy has been drastically suppressed, with the last confirmed act of piracy taking place in April 2019.
This significant success does not mean, however, that piracy has been eradicated. Operation ATALANTA has forced criminal networks associated with piracy to diversify their activities and engage in other illicit maritime crimes, keeping piracy as a dormant activity waiting for the right opportunity to reemerge.
This extremely complicated context has led to the modifications in Operation ATALANTA´s new mandate, approved in December 2020 to enable the Operation to strengthen maritime situational awareness and counter maritime threats beyond piracy.
Interview with the Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force in Somalia
With a great honour we present, an exclusive interview with the Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force in Somalia, Major General Martin Smith, on the legendary Triumph of the European Union Naval Force in ATALANTA.
Interview with Deputy Operation Commander of European Union Naval Force Somalia
In our exclusive interview series, it is a tremendous honour to hear views from Rear Admiral Gonzalez-Aller Lacalle, Deputy Operation Commander of European Union Naval Force Somalia, on the diverse aspects of the Operation Atalanta and its continuous success.
Commanding Officer of ESPS Relampago, Lieutenant Commander Francisco Garcia Flores of Spanish Navy (right) and Commodore Hadyn Edmonson of Royal Canadian Navy (left) January 16, 2017 © EU NAVFOR
Spanish Naval warship ESPS Relampago in Operation Atalanta met with the Combined Task Force 150 in their port visit to Tanzania.
The Commanding Officer of the Combined Task Force 150, Commodore Edmonson visited the EU NAVFOR warship ESPS Relampago and met with the ESPS Relampago’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Francisco Garcia Flores and the crew.
The meeting and discussion of both Commanding Officers highlighted the close cooperation and the joint efforts of EU NAVFOR and the Combined Task Force 150 in counter piracy operation and maritime security in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Royal Netherlands Navy in Operation Atalanta-5
The close partnership between the EU Naval Force in Operation Atalanta and NATO in Operation Ocean Shield has been the vital path for enduring success at the military and political fronts for both.
In the recent port visit of the Frigate HNLMS Tromp to the Seychelles, Operation Atalanta’s Force Commander Commodore Luyckx, was welcomed by Royal Danish Air Force Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachment based in the Seychelles as a part of NATO in Operation Ocean Shield.
Operation Atalanta Force-Commander, Commodore Luyckx of the Netherlands Navy (right) with Major Anders Kyed of Royal Danish Air Force Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachment in NATO Operation Ocean Shield (left). October 31, 2016 © EU NAVFOR
- Additional: Operation Atalanta’s Dutch Flagship on Exercise with Seychelles’ Maritime Forces
News from EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta
News from Royal Netherlands Navy News from Danish Armed-Forces
News from UK Royal Navy News from Commodore René Luyckx
News from Spanish Navy News from US Naval Forces Europe/Africa
UK Royal Navy in London’s Poppy Day 2016
Royal Netherlands Navy in EU NAVFOR
Spanish Naval Force in Operation Atalanta-2
The Naval crew of ESPS Relampago with Convent Sisters. Djibouti October 26, 2016 © EU NAVFOR
Earlier this week the Spanish Naval warship ESPS Relampago in its port stop in Djibouti, visited a Catholic charity school of Couvent de la Nativité. The Commanding Officer of ESPS Relampago presented the funds which had been donated by the two Spanish charity foundation of ‘Caritas Castrense’ and ‘Asociacion Nuestra señora del Carmen’, and school materials provided by Spanish Navy School Colegio de Huerfanos de la Armada.
The Spanish Naval Warship, ESPS Relampago has been part of Operation Atalanta in rotational deployment terms since 2012, when its chapter in Operation Atalanta started with a successful Rescue Operation that saved the lives of 68 people in the gulf of Aden.
Sources: EU NAVFOR/ Spanish Navy
The history of France, like the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands and other Europeans…. echos centuries of successful and highly advanced Naval Forces which reigned…… and has possessed the Oceans and the Seas. In the recent years– in the European counter-piracy Operation, France has been contributing a vital part from early 2009.
Frigate La Fayette © EU NAVFOR
On September 28, the French Navy redeployed its Frigate La Fayette in Operation Atalanta to join the other European Naval Forces in the EU NAVFOR for the ongoing Operation. Marking it not the first time, the multi-task Naval vessel carrying the name of General la Fayette has been previously in several rotational terms deployed in EU NAVFOR for combating the piracy and reinforcing the Maritime Security in the Indian Oceans and gulf of Aden.
- Additional: Atalanta : Le patrouilleur L’Adroit entre en Atalanta
- EU NAVFOR Force Commander Visits French Frigate La Fayette
- The Swedish warship Carlskrona to a warm welcome from the French Frigate La Fayette
U.S Naval Replenishment Ship ‘USNS Laramie’ (center) off the Coast of Somalia, supporting Operation Atalanta. December 17, 2015 © EU NAVFOR
The Swedish Naval Leadership in Operation Atalanta
At the end of July on the 29 in the UK HQ Office of the European Naval Force OP. Atalanta, Rear Admiral Cristobal Gonzalez-Aller from Spanish Navy assumed the leadership of Deputy Operation Commander from Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrom of Swedish Navy.
Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrom has been the Deputy Operation Commander European Union Naval Force Somalia since January 2016. His outstanding leadership during his term covered the entire aspects of the OP Atalanta and the enhancement of the Maritime Security off the Horn of Africa and in the Indian Ocean.
Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrom of Swedish Navy (left) and Rear Admiral Cristobal Gonzalez-Aller of Spanish Navy (right) July 29, 2016 © EU NAVFOR
“It has been a privilege to serve with Operation Atalanta and to meet the Sailors, Marines and Airmen who are working tirelessly on a daily basis to ensure that the humanitarian aid destined for the Somali people, as well as Vessels carrying goods to and from Europe, arrive at their destination safely. I wish Rear Admiral Gonzalez-Aller and the rest of the Operation Atalanta team the very best of luck – stay steady!” Expressed Rear Admiral Wikstrom. July 29, 2016 © EU NAVFOR
- News from Swedish Armed-Forces
- News from Sweden Mission to NATO
- News from Sweden Mission to UN
- News from Sweden Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Spanish Naval Force in Operation Atalanta-1
Spanish frigate ESPS Santa Maria May 2016 © EUNAVFOR
Described by EU NAVAL Force, Frigate ESPS Santa Maria has a high caliber Operational capabilities including a unique Maritime Surveillance and Reconnaissance system, Remotely Piloted Air System, and the Seahawk Helicopter on board.
With the arrival of ESPS Santa Maria, the Multitask Warship ESPS Tornado also of Spanish Navy will return to its port in Gran Canaria, after months of successfully conducting counter-privacy Operations in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.
Spanish Minister of Defense visits EU NAVFOR warship in Djibouti, by EU NAVFOR July 2011
Die Bundeswehr in Operation Atalanta-6
The German Navy MPRA Team with the Bundeswehr’s Eagle P-3C Orion in Operation Atalanta, Djibouti. April 8,2016 © EU NAVFOR
As a part of EU Naval Force since 2008, the German Navy has been playing a crucial role in Operation Atalanta. Its Naval Eagle P-3C Orion flies regularly…… upon the Oceanic waves in patrolling the coast of Somalia and the gulf of Aden for Maritime Reconnaissance, that to transmit the Intel to the Flagship, currently Frigate Bayern, for the Force Commander to evaluate, determine and….. command the next stage.
On the achievement of imposingly successful– flying 5000 hours in the Operation, the Commanding Officer of the German Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft ‘MPRA’ Detachment, Lieutenant Commander Kai Hansen, elaborated:
“5,000 hours in the Air can only be achieved with a Strong Team. The cooperation between Crew, Technicians and Support Staff is excellent and means we can continuously contribute to the Success of the Operation.” © die Bundeswehr/EU NAVFOR April 11,2016
Lieutenant Commander Kai Hansen congratulating the two the Bundeswehr’s Pilots for their 8000 hours successful fly © die Bundeswehr/Christin Krakow. Djibouti, April 19,2016
Lieutenant Commander Kai Hansen, also personally congratulated the two Bundeswehr’s Pilots from the MPRA Team, each with 4000 hours of successfully fly in the Operation Atalanta.
Die Bundeswehr in Operation Atalanta-5
On March 23 the German Navy took over the Command Force of the Operation Atalanta which was previously under the Command of Italian Navy.
Operation Atalanta Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Jonas Wikstrӧm of Swedish Navy (centre), Rear Admiral Stefano Barbieri of Italian Navy (left) and the Force Commander Rear Admiral Kaack of die Bundeswehr (right) March 23, 2016 ©EU Naval Force
In the next five months Frigate Bayern under the Command of Rear Admiral Jan Kaack will be the Flagship of Operation Atalanta and continues the EU Naval Force Mission at Sea (the Horn of Africa) and in the Western Indian Ocean.
Since the launch of the EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta in 2008, the German Navy has been providing:
- The Frigate Bayern
- The Maritime Patrol Aircraft P-3C Orion (the Bundeswehr’s Eagle) which flies also for NATO
- And the Corvette Erfurt
Frigate Bayern March 2016 ©EU Naval Force
“I am proud to take Force Command of Operation Atalanta today. Whilst there have been no successful acts of piracy recently, this does not mean that the threat from piracy has gone away. Übt man genug Druck aus, stoppt die Blutung. Lockert man zu früh, geht es wieder los. Die Fähigkeit und der Wille der Piraten, erneut loszulegen, sind noch da!
“We must remain vigilant and continue to work together to ensure that the pirates are not given the opportunity to get out to sea and attack merchant ships and their crews for ransom. I wish Rear Admiral Barbieri and his crew a safe journey home to their families.” ©EU Naval Force/die Bundeswehr. Elaborated Real Admiral Kaack on the occasion of assuming the Command.
Related news on FGS Bayern on our site:
- Die Operation Atalanta-1
- Die Bundeswehr in Operation Atalanta -2
- European Naval Force in Operation Atalanta-2
- Frigate FGS Bayern rejoins the EU Naval Force
- Deutsche Marine in Operation Atalanta
was launched in December 2008, within the framework of the European Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions and the International Law. With the Comprehensive Approach, the Operational area covers the Southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and a large part of the Indian Ocean, including the Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, the Somalia’s coastal and internal waters.
The Operational Mandate:
• To Protect World Food Programme (WFP) Vessels delivering aid to displaced persons in Somalia, and African Union Mission on Somalia (AMISOM) shipping.
•To Deter, prevent and disrupt piracy and armed robbery at Sea
•To Protect vulnerable shipping off the Somali Coast on a case by case basis
•To Supports other EU Missions and International Organisations working to strengthen Maritime Security and capacity in the Region
•In addition, the EU NAVFOR also contributes to the monitoring of fishing activities off the coast of Somalia © EU NAVFOR
The EU NAVFOR is under command of Major General Martin Smith, from the UK Royal Marines.
The United Kingdom’s Leadership in Operation Atalanta
The Operation Commander, Major General Martin Smith MBE with the UK Secretary of State for Defence, The Right Honourable Michael Fallon MP. London January 28,2016 ©European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta
The UK Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Michael Fallon visited EU NAVFOR’s Operational Headquarters in London. The visit was to ensure the EU Naval Operation of the un-ending UK’s commitment and supports.
Related documents from the UK Parliament:
Deutsche Marine in Operation Atalanta
The German Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) flied and accomplished its missions– in support of the Flagship the Italian ITS Carabiniere in Operation Atalanta.
The Aircraft has been in Operation in EU Naval Force since 2008. In its latest mission it re-joined the Operation Atalanta in September 2015 under the Commanding Officer, Commander Bodo Ahlers.
In November, the Aircraft conducted successfully several joint Operations with the Italian Carabiniere in Counter-Piracy Mission in the Horne of Africa.
The German MPRA, has been not only a vital partner in EU Naval Force in Operation Atalanta, but equally important to NATO, in the operation ‘Oceans Shield’
The Royal Netherlands Navy in Operation Atalanta-1
The Royal Netherlands Warship, HNLMS Groningen Friday 27 November ©EU NAVFOR
Since 2008, as a vital part of EU Naval Force, the Royal Netherlands Navy has been greatly engaged in Operation Atalanta.
In August 2015, for the first time, the Royal Dutch Navy deployed one of its golden Ace ‘Patrol Vessel HNLMS Groningen’ to EU Naval Force for the ongoing Counter-piracy ‘the Operation Atalanta’.
In its leading position, the Royal Warship HNLMS Groningen was engaged in: Patrolling the regional water for maintaining Security and giving protection to ‘ Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN’. And in the Joint Training and Exercise with the regional Maritime Forces.
On November 27. the Royal Netherlands Warship accomplished its three months period mission and was awarded the Medal of Operation Atalanta.
In the Atalanta Medal Parade ceremony ‘Commander Hansen’ the Commanding Officer expressed his gratitude to his crew and stated:
“This Medal is a sign of the European Union’s appreciation of your good work and achievements.” November 2015 ©EU NAVFOR
Italian Navy has assumed the Force Command of Operation Atalanta
The Force Commander Rear Admiral Barbieri October 8, 2015 ©EU NAVFOR
In an official ceremony Rear Admiral Stefano Barbieri of Italian Navy assumed, from Spain, the Force Command of the EU Naval Force in Operation Atalanta.
“Whilst there have been no successful acts of piracy recently, this does not mean that the threat from piracy has gone away. The situation in Somalia is still fragile. We must remain vigilant and continue to work together to ensure that the pirates are not given the opportunity to get out to sea and attack merchant ships and their crews for ransom.” highlighted Rear Admiral Stefano Barbieri during the ceremony of assuming the Command. October 8, 2016 ©EU NAVFOR
In a few week time, by mid November, the EU Naval Force Flagship will be also handed over to ITS Carabiniere of Italy.
European Union Ambassadors joint visit in EU Naval Force HQ-London
The European Ambassadors visited the EU Naval Force HQ in London and met with Major General Martin Smith MBE, the Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Somalia.
During this meeting, Major General Martin Smith gave briefing to the Ambassadors from European Union States on:
- The progress made in Operations Atalanta
- The close partnerships between EU NAVFOR and other EU missions in counter-piracy
- The cooperation between the EU NAVFOR and the regional officials
The Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Somalia, also emphasized in his briefing the need for continuation of vigilance at Sea for maintaining the achieved Maritime Security.
Spain takes over from Sweden the Command of EU Naval Force
Rear Admiral Alfonso Gómez from the Spanish Navy assumed the Command of the Operation Atalanta’s Force Headquarters.
During this period, the Operation Atalanta will be carry on from ESPS Galicia warship of the Spanish Navy. Currently there are 14 EU member States participating in the day to day Operation.
“I want to congratulate my predecessor and his crew. Jonas, thank you and Bravo Zulu. I am truly grateful to the EU Member States for appointing me as the Force Commander of Operation Atalanta and I realize that the appointment comes with high responsibility.” elaborated Rear Admiral Gomez during the official ceremony.
The Royal Swedish Navy in European Naval Force
On February 16th , Rear Admiral Thörnqvist visited the EU Naval Force Headquarters in London and met with the Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, Major General Martin Smith MBE, and several other high ranking Military Commanders.
The Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force Major General Martin Smith MBE (right) Rear Admiral Jan Thörnqvist(second from right) Deputy Commander of the EU Naval Force Rear Admiral Paolo Pezzutti (third from right) Deputy Chief of Staff from NATO Commondore Arian Minderhoud (fourth from right) London, March 2015 ©European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta
He also met with the Swedish Military personnel and the International Military staff working at the Headquarters.
During this visit Rear Admiral Thörnqvist was briefed about the progress made thus far, and the planning ahead for the Counter-Piracy Mission in the ‘Operation Atalanta’
In the February 2015, the Royal Swedish Navy has assumed also the Command of the EU Naval Force in ‘Operation Atalanta’ for the second time.
European Naval Force in Operation Atalanta-2
On February 13th, Rear Admiral Haggren from the Royal Swedish Navy has assumed Command of the EU Naval Force at the Sea in Operation Atalanta.
The new Commander Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren (right)with Rear Admiral Paolo Pezzutti (centre) and Rear Admiral Guido Rando the Deputy Commander of the EU Naval Force (left) February 2015 ©European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta
This transferring Command makes the second time for the Royal Swedish Navy to be in Command of the Counter-Piracy Task Force on the coast of Somalia.
“I am looking forward to this important role and am confident that we will do our very best to support the operation.” elaborated Rear Admiral Haggren in his speech during the ceremony.
As the new Commander of the Operation, in one of his first official tour Rear Admiral Haggren visited ‘Frigate FGS Bayern’ from the German Navy on February 24th. His visit was warmly welcomed by the Commanding Officer Commander Frank Fahnrich and the crews.
Commander Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren during his visit the German Navy Frigate, FGS Bayern February 2015 ©European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta
The EU Naval Force for Operation Atalanta is the largest combined European Naval forces that are working in unison for Counter-Piracy in the coast of Somalia. The mission was established under UN Security Council and was mandated and set into Operation since December 2008.
In November 2014 the Council of European Union announced the extension of the mandate for Operation Atalanta until 12 December 2016.
There are currently 21 EU States and 2 non-EU States are taking part in this Mission.
*For more details on die Bundeswehr’s engagement in Operation Atalanta please see also: http://deutschlandinderwelt.org/2013/06/15/die-operation-atalanta-1/
A view to the European Naval Force Operation Atalanta
December 2013 © EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)
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