On Wednesday 2 April, German Navy frigate, FGS Hessen departed the waters of the Gulf of Aden and headed for home after completing four months of counter piracy patrols with the EU Naval Force.
After a short port stop in Malaga, Spain, FGS Hessen will arrive in her home port in Wilhelmshaven on Thursday 17 April.
It was the first time that FGS Hessen, the newest frigate of the German Navy, has taken part in Operation Atalanta.
As part of the EU Naval Force’s mandate, FGS Hessen’s tasks were to deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast, to protect vessels of the World Food Programme (WFP) and African Union Mission on Somalia (AMISOM) and to monitor fishing activity off the Somali coast.
FGS Hessen’s four months with the EU Naval Force were characterized by counter piracy patrols and surveillance and evidence gathering operations close to the Somali coastline. They provided close support to the meeting held on board FS Siroco with EU ambassadors and the Puntland President. The ship also conducted 76 reassurance visits to local fishermen, whilst the warship’s two embarked Sea Lynx Mk 88a helicopters flew hundreds of hours, helping to compile a detailed picture of the pattern of life at sea in the waters of the Horn of Africa. The medical crew of FGS Hessen also saved the lives of two fishermen. One fisherman was rescued from his capsized skiff and the other was given emergency surgery after he was seriously injured following a stingray attack.
Additionally FGS Hessen participated in several counter piracy exercises with international forces, including the South Korean warship, Kang Gam Chan, the Chinese counter piracy Task Group and several other EU units. These exercises helped in a small way, to develop greater understanding between international navies and strengthened coordination and cooperation to deter piracy around the Horn of Africa.
Prior to departing the piracy high risk area, FGS Hessen carried out an exercise with the German cruise liner, AIDAdiva while transiting through the International Recommended Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden, much to the surprise and delight of the 2,000 passengers on board.
After 150 demanding days in the EU operation, which covered the Christmas and New Year period, the commanding officer of FGS Hessen, Commander Dirk Jacobus and his crew are now happy to be returning home to Germany.
In summing up their deployment with Atalanta, Commander Dirk Jacobus stated “My crew and I have had a challenging, but very rewarding time and we will return to Germany with a lot of experiences and memories. We are proud to have contributed to this important mission, that not only protects humanitarian aid ships to Somalia, but it also helps to ensure that ships carrying international trade in to Europe and beyond, remained safe. This benefits us all.”
Press Release, April 3, 2014; Image: EU Navfor