A Lithuanian Navy Lieutenant was awarded an Operation Atalanta Medal for his service as part of the EU NAVFOR-Atalanta, European Union operation for countering piracy and armed robbery at sea.
“Be proud of this medal, it is recognition of your outstanding commitment, professionalism and efforts,” the EU NAVFOR Somalia Commander Rear Admiral Stefano Barbieri said when presenting the medals. The Admiral also underscored that the awardees had truly contributed to the mission’s aim of strengthening maritime security in that wide and strategically significant sea area.
The Medal Parade was held onboard the flagship, ITS Carabiniere of the Italian Navy, one of three warships currently deployed on Operation Atalanta by EU member states – Germany, Italy and Spain.
Lithuania commissions a staff officer of the Lithuanian Navy to EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters in Northwood, UK, and one more – to the EU-NAVFOR-ATALANTA tactical headquarters aboard its flagship. Also, a 16-strong Lithuanian Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment is protecting a World Food Programme-chartered vessel taking humanitarian aid to Somalia from the threats of piracy.
Lithuania’s deployments to EU-led multinational operations contribute to fighting international crises and reinforce the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. Lithuania first deployed its capabilities to Operation Atalanta in 2011.
One of the largest European Union-led military operations, EU NAVFOR – Operation Atalanta was launched in 2008 in response to the rising levels of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. Warships deployed on EU NAVFOR escort WFP ships delivering aid to the Somali people via the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, deter and apprehend pirates and armed robbers in the area of operation. Currently, the total strength of the operation is approx. 1.200 contributed by EU and non-EU member states.