On Friday 6 December 2013, the French Navy ship FS Siroco joined the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta. FS Siroco will be the flagship of the European Union’s counter piracy operation off the coast of Somalia for the next four months. Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean is the Force Commander of the 16th EU NAVFOR rotation.
Commissioned in 1998, FS Siroco is a Foudre class Landing Ships Dock ( LPDH). The ship is 168 metres long and has a displacement of 12,000 tonnes. She accommodates a crew of 294 and has embarked for this operation marines and an ALIII helicopter. FS Siroco can support up to 700 personnel on board.
An amphibious and aeromobile operations platform, equipped also for operational transportation and medical support, Siroco is perfectly suited for the role as Force Headquarter. This is the first time that FS Siroco has taken part in the EU Naval Force to fight piracy.
Talking about joining the EU Naval Force, Commanding Officer of FS Siroco, Captain Jean-Marc Le Quilliec, said:
“My crew and I are fully trained and ready to conduct this counter piracy operation. As one of the naval assets of the force and also as the support to FHQ, we will work hard to bring stability and security to the Horn of Africa. Since the beginning of Operation Atalanta in December 2008, France has been a major contributor to the EU Naval Force.”
After departing from her home port of Toulon on 18 November, FS Siroco has conducted an intensive period of operational training, including training of the ship’s Boarding Team at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operation Training Center (NMIOTC) in Greece on November.
Press Release, December 11, 2013; Image: EU Navfor