ESPS Rayo Completes Counter Piracy Deployment
Spanish Navy Oceanic Patrol Vessel ESPS Rayo has completed a successful deployment with Operation Atalanta, having spent 85 days as part of the EU Naval Force off the coast of Somalia.
The Spanish warship had departed her home port of Cartagena on 15 February and after transiting the Suez Canal and Red Sea, she commenced operations in the piracy risk areas of the Gulf of Aden and wider Indian Ocean just 11 days later, on 26 February.
For this important EU maritime operation, which has had considerable success in helping to keep merchant ships and their crews safer from pirate attack, ESPS Rayo embarked Spanish Marines and an air unit from Third Squadron. ThirdSquadron consists of an AB-212 helicopter and 17 staff, including pilots, mechanics, flight crews and rescue swimmers, who along with Rayo’s own crew, make a total of 85 sailors on board.
As well as patrolling the busy shipping routes of the Gulf of Aden, ESPS Rayo also conducted reconnaissance missions along the Somali coast close to pirate camps, escorted aid ships of the World Food Programme (WFP), and provided assistance to Motor Vessel Royal Grace, after the merchant ship was released by armed pirates after a year in captivity. Rayo also denied freedom of the seas to a known pirate group in April.
During her deployment with EU Naval Force, ESPS Rayo made re-supply and regional engagement visits to the ports of Djibouti, Muscat (Oman), Port Victoria (Seychelles) and Dar Es Salam (Tanzania).
ESPS Rayo is the second Spanish Oceanic Patrol Vessel to have participated in EU Naval Force; her sister ship, ESPS Relámpago completed a patrol towards the end of last year.
Press Release, May 29, 2013; Image: EU NAVFOR