On Sunday 16 February, the Luxembourg Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachment flew its 1,000th operational sortie as part of the EU Naval Force.
As the Swearingen SW3C Merlin aircraft landed back in the Seychelles, it was given an impressive ‘water-spray’ welcome by the Seychelles International Airport Fire Department. The EU Naval Force liaison officer for the Seychelles and Mauritius, Lieutenant Commander Lindsay Mason Royal Navy, also congratulated the crew on their return.
The Luxembourg MPRA Detachment has been deployed in the Seychelles since October 2009 as Luxembourg’s contribution to the EU’s Operation Atalanta. The EU Naval Force’s mandate is to deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea. It also provides valuable counter-piracy protection at sea to World Food Programme (WFP) vessels delivering aid to the Somali people.
Based in the Seychelles, with temporary deployments to Mombasa and Mayotte, the Luxembourg MPRA team has flown over 5,600 hours since the start of their participation. As well as being involved in the successful disruption of more than 37 Pirate Action Groups, it has also provided aerial assistance during several Search and Rescue missions in the region, including the rescue of the crew from a Chinese fishing vessel and dozens of survivors from a ferry boat that sank near Zanzibar.
Last week, the Luxemburg detachment relocated a Seychelles fishing vessel that had sent out a distress message and was missing for more than 3 days.
Press Release, February 17, 2014; Image: EU Navfor