French Warship FS Marne Becomes New Flagship of EUNAVFOR
In a ceremony held on Saturday (7 April) onboard Spanish warship ESPS Patino, and presided over by the EU Naval Force Deputy Commander – Rear admiral Rainer Endres (German Navy), the French warship FS Marne became the new flagship of the EU Naval Force, Somalia, under the force command of Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Dupuis.
ESPS Patino has been the EU Naval Force flagship for the past 4 months, under the command of Rear Admiral Jorge Manso and during that time EU warships have successfully carried out counter-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia and across the Indian Ocean.
At the ceremony, that took place alongside in Djibouti, Rear Admiral Manso spoke about how proud he was of the EU Naval Force sailors and marines under his command who have worked so tirelessly to track down and disrupt armed pirate attack groups who prowl the waters off the Horn of Africa.
This is the 11th rotation of EU Naval Force Commands. The EU Naval Force mission began in December 2008 and since that time EU warships have protected over 843,000 tonnes of food into Somalia for the Somali people and conducted round-the-clock counterpiracy patrols. So far the EU warships have disrupted 112 Pirates Action Groups; these disruptions have not only prevented cargo, worth hundreds of millions of Euros, from falling into the hands of pirates, they have also spared countless innocent mariners from being taken hostage and held in appalling conditions for months at a time, whilst they wait in hope that a ransom can be paid.
Recent months have seen a reduction in the success of pirates to hijack ships – this is due to a number of factors: namely the shipping community adhering to Best Management Practices, the many disruptions carried out by the EU warships and other maritime partners, such as NATO and CMF, together with the efforts of the Somali authorities ashore. The EU recently extended its counter-piracy mandate to December 2014, together with its area of operations to allow warships to operate closer to shore, and take action against known pirate logistic dumps on the shoreline – the aim being to hamper the pirates’ ability to load up their boats and get out to sea to prey on innocent mariners.
On occasion of his change of command speech, new Force Commander Rear Admiral Dupuis stressed that “it is an honour to succeed to our predecessors on board Patino, who have done a great job and reduced the threat off the coasts of Somalia. My staff and I are very proud to assume command of TF 465 and face the challenge of the fight against piracy”. He also added :”Despite the efforts made by many countries to guarantee a significant force flow, among which France providing at least two ships and a maritime patrol aircraft, the upcoming inter-monsoon period will be a great challenge, as it generally coincides with an increase in the number of attacks.”
Naval Today Staff , April 09, 2012; Image: eunavfor