Italian Navy frigate joins counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa

Italian Navy’s Maestrale-class frigate ITS Espero has joined the EU’s counter piracy mission off the coast of Somalia.

ITS Espero was welcomed to the counter-piracy task force on Saturday, March 25.

Led by Commander Luigi Pirozzi, ITS Espero’s sailors and marines prepared for their mission with operational sea and counter-piracy training prior to departing their base port in Taranto, Italy.

This will be the frigate’s second tasking with the EU Naval Force with the first one taking place in February 2011.

Over the coming months ITS Espero’s key roles will be to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somali basin, afford protection to World Food Programme vessels carrying humanitarian to displaced people in Somalia and support EU sister missions that are working to strengthen maritime security and capabilities of states within the Horn of Africa region. EU Naval Force warships also monitor fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

Speaking about the forthcoming deployment, Commander Pirozzi said: “My ship’s company and I are fully prepared and ready for what I know is going to be a busy four months. It is imperative that pirate attacks continue to be suppressed off the coast of Somalia, so that vessels can remain safe.”

F-576 Espero is the sixth of eight frigates in the Maestrale-class. The ship is crewed by 229 sailors, including 26 officers. Commissioned into service in 1984, the frigate is 123 meters long and displaces 3.200 tons.