On Wednesday 15 July Major General Martin Smith MBE welcomed Ambassadors from European Union countries to the EU Naval Force HQ in London.
The Ambassadors were given an update on ‘Atalanta’, the code name for the European Union’s counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia.
With warships and military patrol aircraft from European Union Member States and other nations on station in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden, together with the self-protection measures by merchant ships, the number of pirate attacks has reduced significantly over the past four years.
In January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 merchant ships were being held by armed pirates, with large ransoms being demanded from the ships’ owners for their release. Today 26 hostages remain in pirate hands, with no ships being held.
The Ambassadors were given a briefing on the successful cooperation between the different EU missions, counter-piracy task forces and regional states, which together, are working hard to strengthen economic development and maritime security in Somalia and at sea.
Before the Ambassadors departed the HQ, Major General Smith stated that whilst naval forces welcomed the significant reduction in Somali piracy, there was still the need for continued vigilance against pirate attacks at sea due to continued instability in Somalia – the threat remains.