The EU anti-migrant smuggling operation in the Mediterranean sea, known as Operation Sophia, has entered its operational phase, aimed at boarding and seizing vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling and trafficking.
The operational phase follows the first phase, launched June 22, which involved intelligence gathering on smuggling routes and networks. Phase II is intended to precede operations due to take place within the territorial waters of Libya as well as coercive actions against the smugglers, including on Libyan soil.
Following the anti-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden (Atalanta), EUNAVFOR Med confirms the maritime dimension of Common Security and Defense Policy (CSDP) in the management of new types of security threats. The operation also brings CSDP closer to the EU internal security portfolio and its Freedom, Security and Justice (FSJ) agenda.
The composition of EUNAVFOR Med will vary dependent on the frequent rotation and composition of the various warships and other assets assigned to the operation. The flagship is the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour and the force Commander on board is Rear Admiral Andrea Gueglio (Italian Navy).
Six vessels, with ITS Cavour at the helm, are currently deployed on Operation Sophia:
- Belgian BNS Leopold I (F930)
- German FGS Schleswig-Holstein (F216)
- French FS Courbet (F712)
- Spanish SPS Canarias (F86)
- British HMS Enterprise (H88)
- German Tender Werra (A514)
EUNAVFOR Med was renamed “Sophia” after the name given to a baby born on board FGS Schleswig-Holstein. The frigate rescued the baby’s mother on August 22, 2015, off the coast of Libya.
Naval Today Staff, Infographic: EUNAVFOR Med