Spanish Navy frigate Santa María (F-81) set sail from Rota Naval Base to integrate into the EU-led counter-piracy Operation Atalanta in the Indian Ocean until the end of September.
The farewell ceremony was presided over by Commander 41st Escort Squadron, Captain Ramón Godín.
Operation Atalanta is a European Union undertaking which commenced in December 2008. Its purpose is to provide protection to World Food Program (WFP) ships; protect vulnerable shipping routes and trawlers fishing in the area; and fight piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Somalia.
This is the first time a Spanish Navy frigate will use an UAV which will complement the capabilities of the embarked SH-60B Seahawk helicopter.
Frigate Santa María is the first ship of the F-80 series (ex – U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class). The six frigates, which make up the 41st Escort Squadron, were built by the former Bazán shipyards (now NAVANTIA). The F-81 was commissioned on October 12th 1986.
Santa María deployed with more than 220 people aboard including her own crew, an MC Special Operations squad, aircraft support personnel and a medical team.