On Sunday 6 April, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean (French Navy) handed over the Force Command of EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta to Rear Admiral Jürgen zur Mühlen (German Navy) during a Change of Command ceremony held on board FS Siroco in the Port of Djibouti.
Deputy Operation Commander of EU Naval Force Rear Admiral Bartolomé Bauzá presided over the handover. The event was also attended by Lieutenant General Hans-Werner Fritz Commander of the Joint Forces Operations Command of the German Armed Forces in Potsdam.
The outgoing Force Commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean addressed the distinguished guests and representatives of the taskforce and force headquarters aboard the flagship. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Force Headquarters staff, the commanding officers and crews of all the units under my command, not least the FS Siroco, her Commanding Officer and her ships company. Without their constant hard work and professionalism my successful 4 month tenure could not have been achieved.”
“I wish Rear Admiral zur Mühlen all the best for his 4 months as Force Commander of EU Naval Force”, he concluded.
The Deputy Operational Commander, Rear Admiral Bartolomé Bauzá in his speech aboard the FS Siroco congratulated the outgoing Force Commander on a job well-done, “Under the excellent leadership of Rear Admiral Bléjean the taskforce has succesfully prevented any successful pirate attacks and secured the arrest of 5 suspect pirates. During his tenure the World Food Programme has delivered much needed food to Somalia whilst under protection of EU NAVFOR forces. The Flagship has also conducted 2 successful Key Leader Engagements with Somaliland and Puntland as well as a very successful exercises with other Counter-Piracy forces. ”
“I am confident that Rear Admiral zur Mühlen and his team are ready to take charge of the force. On behalf of the Operation Commander Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant thank you Hervé, and good luck Jürgen”, he added.
The new Force Commander, Rear Admiral zur Mühlen spoke after Rear Admiral Bauzá : “Since 2008 there have been no successful attacks against World Food Programme (WFP) vessels. We have seen the pictures from the media of Somali people and refugees suffering from famine. EU NAVFOR contributes significantly to reduce this humanitarian crisis by protecting WFP vessels. ”
He continued, “Furthermore EU Naval Force continues to protect vulnerable shipping against pirate attacks. Under my command the Task Force will continue to support the EU’s Comprehensive Approach by working with EUCAP Nestor and other EU initiatives in the region.”
The Force Headquarters led by Rear Admiral Jürgen zur Mühlen will remain aboard the FGS Brandenburg for 4 months. The Force Commander exercises command and control of all military forces in the area of operation.
Press Release, April 7, 2014; Image: EU Navfor