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Operation Atalanta against pirates. European resources V2

(B2)Operation Atalanta is being prepared. Here is some information already. This page is updated based on information received.

Updated Tuesday, November 25 (with some additions concerning France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom).

Code name: Atalanta

Commander of the operation: Rear Admiral Philip Jones (British).

Operational Headquarters (OHQ): Northwood (UK)

Force Commander (by rotation): Antonios Papaioannou (Greek) from December 2008

Captain Juan Garat Caramé (Spain) from April 2009

Dutch officer from August 2009 (?)

Force Headquarters (FHQ): frigate “Nikiforos Fokas” (Greece) from December 2008

Logistics Base (LHQ): Djibouti

Start (expected): December 8 (or mid-December possibly)

Duration: 1 year – divided more or less into three periods (December-March, April-July, August-November)

Composition: between 7 and 8 ships + 1 or 2 planes + helicopters. about 1000 men. (The whole thing to be multiplied by two or three to ensure the duration of the mission, which implies finding around twenty ships/crews, i.e. around 3000 men)

Budget: 8,3 million euros, paid by the 26 Member States participating in the ESDP (in proportion to their GDP according to the Athena mechanism), mainly for the General Staff, the various resources sent are the responsibility of the budgets national costs of the countries that send them (those who send nothing pay nothing, it's not egalitarian but that's how it is!).

A first force generation conference took place last week.

European contributions

Ships, planes, helicopters

Lynx helicopter landing on the Jean de Vienne (Credit: French Navy)

- France. The frigate Courbet (F-712) is already in the area and has carried out several security missions. As well as the surveillance frigate Nivôse (F-732). Two other ships are currently joining the Indian Ocean – the anti-submarine warfare frigate Jean de Vienne (D-643), equipped with a Lynx helicopter (here in the photo), left Toulon on November 15 while the tanker BCR Var (A-608) sailing towards Aden (after maneuvers with the Indian navy). It is also rumored that Aviso Commander Ducuing (based in Toulon, F-795) would be leaving.

France has a permanent base in Djibouti, with almost 3000 men, which should serve as a logistical base. As well as substantial air assets: around ten Mirage 2000 fighters from the 3/11 Corse fighter squadron (7 Mirage C, and 3 Mirage D), 1 Transall C160 strategic transport plane +' a Bréguet Atlantique for maritime surveillance and around ten helicopters – 7 SA 330 Puma (5 from the ALAT land army and 2 from the air force – Overseas Transport Squadron 88 Larzac), 2 Gazelle and 1 Fennec, according to the army communications service.

- Spain. A “Victoria” frigate (F-82, on board: 200 men including 17 from the Air Force and 6 naval infantry), a logistical support ship (114 men) + a P3-Orion surveillance plane ( 100 men) – 400 men in total. The plane is already operational, the ships will be in place, by rotation, at the beginning of 2009. Command of the force will be assumed by a Spaniard in April. (Source: statement by the Spanish Minister of Defense, before Parliament, November 25)

- Netherlands : a frigate “Hr Ms De Ruyter” (F-804) and commandos, protecting PAM boats (already operational). For watch a video (Ministry of Defense website).

- Germany. Two frigates already on site, the “Karlsruhe” (F-212 as part of the NATO force (SNMG2) then under the European flag, and the “Mecklenburg-Vorpommern” (F-218) which left Djibouti on November 22 to patrol for five months in the Indian Ocean. 500 men in all. The Bundeswehr would send 1400 men in total (including rotation). And protection commandos would also be placed on board sensitive ships. But the Bundestag still has to approve the mandate. It was planned by Christmas. But it could be later, because the discussion between the partners of the ruling coalition (CDU / SPD) and the different ministries seems very complicated.

Northumberland sailors in training (credit: UK Royal Navy)

- United Kingdom. Two frigates are present in the area: the “HMS Cumberland” (F-85), as part of the permanent NATO group, SNMG2, which apprehended, on November 18, pirates handed over to the Kenyan authorities should pass under the European flag . The “HMS Northumberland” (F-238), which refueled in Djibouti and must remain in the area for another six months, should first serve under CTF 150 and could go under the European flag). The United Kingdom has promised a frigate for Atalanta for the first part of the operation until April.

- Greece : a frigate “Nikiforos Fokas” (F-466) and its Lynx helicopter + five officers at the OHQ.

- Sweden : two Navy corvettes and a support ship (150 men) to accompany WFP ships to Somalia, according to Defense Minister Sten Tolgfors. 7 officers will be delegated to the General Staff. The decision must be confirmed by the government and Parliament (a bill is about to be finalized by the Ministry of Defense and Parliament could decide at the start of the year). (Operational: by April, or in August).

- Norway (non-EU): a frigate “Fridtjof Nansen” (F-310).

Other participations :

- Malta : an officer at Northwood headquarters. Foreign Minister Tonio Borg confirmed this to his British counterpart, David Miliband, during a meeting on Thursday.

- Finland : Staff at Northwood Headquarters

- Portugal – would above all offer “political support” according to the Ministry of Defense, and could send one or more officers to the General Staff.

Other states are already present in the area. And could more or less participate directly in the European force or at least coordinate with it. To see the details of means of other countries present in the area. According to Lt Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the US 5th Fleet, more than 14 warships from Denmark, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United States and NATO usually patrol this maritime corridor.


Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).