The Spanish auxiliary oiler and replenishment ship, the SPS PATINO, Flagship of the European Union Naval Force Somalia, with the Force Commander, Captain Jorge Manso Revilla embarked, has recently completed a “first” for the mission by escorting a three ship convoy of ships chartered by the World Food Programme.
Since the inception of the EU NAVFOR mission in December 2008, over 770,000 tonnes of food-aid has been moved in 118 escorted transits which are usually a single merchant ship with a warship escort however the increasing volume of food-aid needed to respond to the worst famine for 20 years means that additional merchant ships are required and the most efficient means of protecting them from pirate attack is to travel in close company.
The SPS PATINO was previously tasked to the Operation Atalanta mission at the beginning of 2011; she was launched in 1995 and displaces 17,045 tonnes, with top speed of 20kt and a range of over 13,450 nautical miles.
EU NAVFOR conducts counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the protection of World Food Program ships carrying humanitarian aid for the people of Somalia and the logistic support vessels of the African Union troops conducting Peace Support Operations in Somalia. Additionally, EU NAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.
Naval Today Staff , December 19, 2011; Image: eunavfor