On 1 January 2021, a decision entered into force to extend the mandate of the European Union Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta for another two years, until 31 December 2022.
The new mandate also includes some new tasks reinforcing Atalanta’s role as a maritime security provider in the area and built on its current success in countering piracy and protecting WFP and other vulnerable vessels.
Hence, new non-executive tasks such as IUU fishing, drugs, weapons and charcoal trafficking will be implemented, whilst preparing for the formalisation of the executive tasks regarding illegal drugs and weapons trafficking, which will be enforced in a specific area of the Gulf of Aden, once the decision to activate these tasks is taken by the appropriate EU authorities.
As explained, these adjustments are expected to increase the operation’s maritime domain awareness, resulting in a more efficient counterpiracy mission and reinforcing EU NAVFOR´s role as a maritime security provider in line with the objectives of the EU Maritime Security Strategy.
They will also reassure the shipping industry in supporting freedom of navigation and trade.
A month ago, the Portuguese Navy took over command of the 36th rotation of Operation Atalanta from the Italian Navy.
On 2 December 2020, Italian Rear Admiral Riccardo Marchiò, Force Commander of the 35th rotation handed over the command of the Task Force 465 to Portuguese Commodore Diogo Arroteia. EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta welcomed a new Force Headquarters, on-board the Spanish Flagship ESPS Reina Sofia, which will be led by Force Commander Commodore Diogo Arroteia of the 36th operation rotation and by his staff.
Operation Atalanta deters piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast, protects World Food Programme-chartered vessels, monitors fishing activity in the region and supports others EU missions and international organisations.