Italian Navy Rear Admiral Fabio Gregori took over command of the EU counter-piracy operation Atalanta from Spanish Navy Rear Admiral Rafael Fernández-Pintado during a ceremony in Djibouti on July 27.
EU NAVFOR’s deputy operation commander, Rear-Admiral Alfonso Pérez de Nanclares (Spanish Navy), also attended the ceremony.
The outgoing commander led the operation from aboard the Spanish Navy landing platform dock ESPS Galicia which took part in the operation for the fourth time.
During their counter-piracy patrols the crew took the opportunity to meet Somali fishermen and local dignitaries to explain EU NAVFOR’s mission to protect World Food Programme ships, deter acts of piracy and monitor fishing activity. The crew also assisted EU sister mission, EUCAP Somalia, to train local maritime forces. ESPS Galicia’s two Sea King helicopters were also busy, flying over one hundred sorties along the coast and out at sea.
The new mission commander, Rear Admiral Gregori and his Force HQ staff will be aboard the Italian FREMM frigate ITS Fasan over the course of next four months.
Rear Admiral Gregori stated: “Under my command EU NAVFOR crews will continue the excellent work achieved by the 25th rotation. By working with our EU colleagues, other counter-piracy task forces, independent deployers and regional states, we will play our part to help keep the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean safe for seafarers.”