By: Yusuf M Hasan
DJIBOUTI (Somalilandsun) – The Italian navy has assumed command of the EUNAVFOR Somalia.
In a ceremony presided over by the London based EU Naval Force Deputy Commander, Rear Admiral Galtiero Matesi (Italian Navy) and covered live by Somaliland journalists the Italian navy assumed command of the EU naval force
The Italians took over from the French in a ceremony held on board French warship FS Marne, where outgoing commander Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Dupuis handed over sea command of the EU Naval Force to Italian Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino’
In his hand over speech Rear Admiral Dupuis informed that last 4 months of his command the EU Naval Force has carried out counter-piracy patrols off the coasts of Somalia day and night. These patrols have resulted in the disruption of 5 armed Pirate Action Groups, thus preventing the pirates from attacking merchant ships, assisted 45 fishermen to return home to their families, and in May, an EU warship performed the first shoreline operation against a pirate logistic dump, with the aim of denying pirates’ impunity to plan their attacks on the shore. The EU Naval Force has also provided protection to the World Food Programme (WFP) and African Mission Somalia (AMISOM), with about 120,000 tons of food shipped to the Somali people under the protection of Operation Atalanta. At the ceremony, Rear Admiral Dupuis stressed how proud he was of his Force’s actions during his 4 months in command and how happy he was with the trust-based relationships he had with the task force units, which he saw as key to the good results obtained.
This is the 12th rotation of EU Naval Force Command. The EU Naval Force mission began in December 2008 and since that time EU warships have protected over 900,000 tonnes of food into Somalia for the Somali people and conducted round-the-clock counter-piracy patrols. So far EU warships have disrupted 118 Pirate Action Groups; these disruptions have not only prevented cargo, worth hundreds of millions of Euros, from falling into the hands of pirates, they have also spared countless innocent mariners from being taken hostage and held in appalling conditions for months at a time, whilst they wait in hope that a ransom can be paid.
The year 2012 has seen a reduction in the number of pirate attacks off the coasts of Somalia, with 33 attacks recorded so far this year, compared with the 176 for 2011. This reduction is due to a number of factors: namely the shipping community adhering to Best Management Practices which make it more difficult for pirates to pirate a ship, the many disruptions carried out by EU warships and other maritime partners, such as NATO and CMF, together with the efforts of the Somali authorities ashore, and the increasing use of private armed security teams on board merchant vessels.