The EU-led counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia has welcomed its new flagship from the Spanish Navy.
On August 6, Spain’s Galicia-class landing platform dock ESPS Castilla joined the operation Atalanta which received a new force commander on the same day.
Rear Admiral Alfonso Nanclares from the Spanish Navy assumed command of operation Atalanta’s Force Headquarters (FHQ) from Italian Navy’s Rear Admiral Simone Malvagna. Rear Admiral Nanclares will lead the FHQ at sea for approximately four months.
The handover ceremony took place aboard Italian Navy’s FREMM frigate ITS Carlo Margottini, the previous mission flagship, in Djibouti. ITS Carlo Margottini served as mission flagship for four months in what was her first time operating east of Suez.
The FHQ will be embarked on ESPS Castilla and is made up of personnel from European Union member and non-member States.
The 1999-built Castilla has a displacement of 13,000 tonnes, a top speed of 20 knots and is 160 meters long. She has already served as the flagship of EU Naval Forces off the Somali coast.
During the handover ceremony, Rear Admiral Nanclares stated his intention to continue the good work that the previous FHQ achieved on board ITS Carlo Margottini, he said: “I want to pass on my congratulations to my predecessor, Rear Admiral Malvagna and his crew for yet another successful counter-piracy deployment… I am truly grateful to the EU Member States for appointing me as the Force Commander of Operation Atalanta and I realize that the appointment comes with high responsibility.”
Since the beginning of the operation in 2008, EU NAVFOR and its counter-piracy partners have been highly effective in reducing pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa.