Spanish OPV Atalaya deploys to West Africa

Spanish Navy offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Atalaya (P-74) set sail from Ferrol, Spain for West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea in support of the Spanish Defense Diplomacy Plan.

These deployments, organized by the Ministry of Defense, the Chief of the Defense Staff (JEMAD) and the Spanish Navy, are intended to enhance maritime security and cooperative security operations.

The Atalaya will relieve sister-ship Centinela which was deployed in the area during the second half of 2015.

The Navy said the deployment will be divided into three stages: the first one, until mid-March, includes the transit to the Gulf of Guinea and cooperative security activities with the Mauritanian and Cape Verdean Navies.

The second stage includes military support to Cameroon and Ghana in aspects related to counter-terrorism, illegal trafficking, counter-piracy, etc. The joint operations are intended to enhance the maritime situational awareness and to contribute to counter those threats.

The third and final stage will be conducted in Cape Verde, Senegal and Mauritania participating in several cooperation activities with their navies including joint surveillance of sovereign maritime areas.

Defense Diplomacy Plan

The Serviola-class patrol boat Atalaya will support the Defense Diplomacy Plan intended to cooperate with regional west-African nations to help them enhance their capabilities and to foster mutual understanding and confidence, thus contributing to maritime security.

This Defense initiative is designed to enhance stability and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, strengthening the operational capabilities of west-African nations with joint training exercises.

The OPV Atalaya, under command of Lt-Cdr. Jesús González-Cela, was built by Navantia in Ferrol. Her main missions include maritime security, fight against marine pollution, SAR, tracking possible illegal activities, and collaboration with other State departments with responsibilities in the maritime domain.