EUNAVFOR Atalanta. The Bundeswehr reviews its system in the Indian Ocean

(B2) This is the end of a commitment that began at the beginning of the European anti-piracy operation in 2008. The German Navy will no longer provide a maritime patrol aircraft of the P3C Orion type in Djibouti. But she promises other ways

A German P3 Orion C aircraft at the Djibouti base. (Bundeswehr/Jenny Bartsch – B2 Archives – March 2015)

Germany has decided to adjust the German contribution to Atalanta we explain in Berlin. A decision taken at the end of 2020, at the same time as the European operation was renewed for two additional years. Germany will continue to make personnel available to the Operation HQ in Rota (Spain). It could also return to sea, with a ship made available temporarily. A new chapter of the Atalanta operation opens.

Several reasons, some official and some unofficial

This decision has multiple explanations. First, the threat level in Horn of Africa waters is currently at a low level » justifies the Bundeswehr. It is the price of success. While we were counting 571 attacks in the area between 2008 and 2012 ", this has been reduced significantly in recent years: ten attacks between 2013 and 2016 (without kidnappings), seven attacks in 2017 (including two with kidnappings), three attacks in 2018. Since the last piracy incident " confirmed », in April 2019, “ no incidents of piracy have been recorded off Somalia. " No ship is no longer in the hands of Somali pirates.

Second reason, the range of tasks of the operation is " changing ". Operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta no longer only aims to fight against piracy, but also to fight against arms and drug trafficking. Germany " daily "this extension to" other forms of maritime threats that endanger regional security ". NB: which means reviewing the legal framework of the commitment. The current mandate, authorized by the Bundestag until May 2021, does not automatically include this objective.

Another reason for this redeployment is more hidden, but very concrete. The German Navy doesn't really have any planes in working order anymore (read: A French Atlantic 2 in Irini. German P3 Orions broken down). She prefers to reserve them for a closer and more important area in terms of threats: the Mediterranean (read: The German P3 Orion … far from the area of ​​​​operation).

It remains to repatriate the material

The German base in Djibouti, which provided logistics in particular, will be partly dismantled. The German contingent on site is about to be relocated to Germany (via A400M). And the special pioneers of Husum are “ checking "the equipment on site to examine" its transportability ". The return will then be made either by sea, or by air, or even (it is not specified) simply left on site (or destroyed). The volume is rather substantial: we are talking about around 50 standardized maritime containers. The move will take several months and is expected to be completed by May 31, 2021.

An operation with Spanish resources surtout

It should be noted that the EUNAVFOR Atalanta operation currently only includes Spanish resources: the landing ship Castilla (L52) and a P3 Orion patrol aircraft. It should be temporarily reinforced by French ships participating in the Jeanne D'arc mission, the amphibious helicopter carrier Thunder and the frigate Surcouf. Spain is in command of the operation, with Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río, assuming the role of framework nation and providing a good part of the means. Italy, which is one of the other regular contributors, has the deputy command of the operation, with Rear Admiral Roberto Messina (1).

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. A post assigned for a certain time (by rotation), to a German officer, when Germany was one of the most regular contributors to the operation (in terms of naval resources).

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).