On Wednesday 6 August 2014 Rear Admiral Jürgen zur Mühlen (German Navy) handed over Force Command of the EU’s counter-piracy Operation Atalanta to Rear Admiral Guido Rando (Italian Navy).
Brigadier General Dick Swijgman, who recently assumed the role of Deputy Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force, presided over the handover on board the EU Naval Force flagship, FGS Brandenburg, in the port of Djibouti.
For the last four months Rear Admiral zur Mühlen and his international military staff of 32 men and women have been embarked on board FGS Brandenburg off the coast of Somalia. From there they have deployed EU Naval Force warships, helicopters and maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to ensure that seafarers remained as safe as possible from pirate attack.
A key role for EU Naval Force warships is to escort World Food Programme (WFP) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. As a result, since the EU Naval Force was launched in December 2008 every WFP ship has remained safe and over the past four months 15 WFP vessels have delivered two million tonnes of aid to displaced people in Somalia.
Rear Admiral Guido Rando currently has four EU warships and aircraft and more than 1,000 military personnel within his force.
FGS Brandenburg’s crew will start their long journey home to their base port of Wilhelmshaven on Friday 8 August and are expected to return home by the end of August.