Pirates have been a major threat to boats and ships in and around the Gulf of Aden since the beginning of the 2000s. That was the reason for initiating Operation Atalanta by the EU Naval Force, abbreviated EU Navfor. It falls under the EU's marine force, but other countries outside the EU member states also contribute to the operation. Sweden has sent five units to Operation Atalanta: ME 01, ME 02, ME 03, ME 04 and ME 05 in 2017.
Operation Atalanta protects ships carrying food to those in need in Somalia. Ships are sent by the United Nations in the framework of the World Food Program, WFP. Other tasks included in the operation are to:
- Protect African Union maritime transport to Somalia,
- Monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast, and
- Prevent and combat piracy and armed robbery against ships.
The basis for the operation is Resolution 1816 from the UN Security Council. Under the UN resolution, EU Navfor will help the transitional government in Somalia to arrest and hand over suspected pirates. EU Navfor also has a mandate to seize or neutralise pirate vessels and place security forces on board vessels requiring protection.