Sweden hands over to Spain

Spain Takes Force Command of Operation Atalanta off the Coast of Somalia

On Wednesday 6 May 2015 Rear Admiral Alfonso Gómez from the Spanish Navy, assumed command of Operation Atalanta’s Force Headquarters (FHQ) during a ceremony held in Djibouti. Rear Admiral Gomez assumed Force Command from Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren, (Swedish Navy).

Spain Takes Force Command of Operation Atalanta off the Coast of Somalia. Photo: Mattias Nurmela/Swedish Armed Forces

The new FHQ staff, which is embarked in Spanish Navy warship, ESPS Galicia, is made up from 14 European Union Member States, as well as personnel from the EU's partner nation, Djibouti.

Rear Admiral Gomez will lead the EU Naval Force at sea for approximately five months.

Rear Admiral Gomez assumed Force Command from Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren, (Swedish Navy), and during the handover ceremony he stated his intention to continue the good work that the previous FHQ achieved on board the Royal Netherlands Navy warship, HNLMS Johan de Witt.

Speaking during the handover ceremony, Rear Admiral Gomez stated: "I want to congratulate my predecessor and his crew. Jonas, thank you and Bravo Zulu. I am truly grateful to the EU Member States for appointing me as the Force Commander of Operation Atalanta and I realize that the appointment comes with high responsibility."

Rear Admiral Haggren has been the EU Naval Force Commander on board HNLMS Johan de Witt, since February 2015. At the ceremony he expressed his gratitude towards his FHQ staff and crew. "I also want to thank the other EU Naval Force crews that are based ashore or in the warships and maritime patrol aircraft in the area of operations."

The EU Naval Force, in co-operation with counter-piracy partners, has been highly effective in reducing pirate attacks. At the height of Somali piracy in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 ships were being held by pirates. As of May 2015, no merchant vessels are being held in captivity.