Counter-piracy operation welcomes new force commander

The EU-led counter-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia has welcomed a new force commander in a ceremony held in Djibouti on April 5.

Italian Navy Rear Admiral Simone Malvagna will now be in charge of operation Atalanta from aboard his flagship, FREMM frigate ITS Carlo Margottini.

The frigate is on the return leg of her Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea deployment which started in February this year.

Carlo Margottini will be part of operation Atalanta for the next four months before heading for her homeport in La Spezia, Italy.

With his embarked Force HQ, Rear Admiral Malvagna will have tactical command of operation Atalanta warships and maritime patrol aircraft as they conduct their counter-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

Operation Atalanta was launched in December 2008 and is part of the European Union’s efforts to ensure Somali-based piracy remains suppressed to enable World Food Programme vessels that carry humanitarian aid to Somali ports and merchant ships that transport goods to and from Europe, stay safe from pirate attack.

Other key roles for Operation Atalanta warships are to monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast and to support EU sister missions that are working to strengthen maritime security and capacities of regional states in the Horn of Africa.

“We have embarked onto the flagship Margottini to continue this vital operation, let us remember that our main mission is to deter, prevent and repress piracy and also to protect World Food Programme shipping,” Rear Admiral Malvagna said. “We share this determination with our partners in the Combined Maritime Forces and look forward to close cooperation, coordination and interoperability.”