During the last week EU Naval Force (NAVFOR) Spanish and French frigates have ensured that much needed humanitarian aid has been delivered safely to the people of Somalia. From 5 to 11 April, Spanish frigate ESPS Infanta Elena and French warship FS Aconit took it in turns to escort World Food Programme (WFP) ship MW Golden Bridge from Mogadishu to Berbera.
Departing from Mogadishu on 5 April, MV Golden Bridge was escorted by the Spanish frigate Infanta Elena up to the Horn of Africa, then on 8 April, just hours after disrupting 8 suspected pirates on board a whaler, French frigate Aconit took over the escort, heading towards Berbera on the northern coast of Somalia.
To have more flexibility and freedom of manoeuvre and to be able to respond immediately to an attack from pirates, Aconit’s commanding officer deployed his vessel protection detachment on board M/V Golden Bridge. This also offered the opportunity to brief Golden Bridge’s crew on Best Management Practices that will help them defend themselves against pirates.
M/V Golden Bridge arrived safely in Berbera on 11 April and ESPS Infanta Elena and FS Aconit are once again conducting counter-piracy patrols off the Somali coast.
Escorting WFP ships is one of EU NAVFOR Atalanta’s main missions and since 2008, no WFP ship has been hijacked. Almost 150 ships have delivered more than 800,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid to the people of Somalia.
Naval Today Staff , April 19, 2012; Image: eunavfor