AGI – Italy today assumed tactical command of the European Union operation Eunavfor (European Naval Force) Atalanta. The handover ceremony between Rear Admiral of the Italian Navy Francesco Saladino and Commodore Rogèrio Martins de Brito of the Portuguese Navy took place this morning in the port of Djibouti on board the Spanish Frigate Victoria in the presence of the deputy commander of the Operation, Rear Admiral Eric Dousson. The Ministry of Defense announced this in a note. “The assumption of Command of Operation Atalanta, at this particular moment, takes on significant significance for Defense. The threat of piracy requires a firm and coordinated response at an international level and the Eunavfor Somalia (Op. Atalanta) mission represents a fundamental pillar in the European strategy to protect trade routes and keep maritime lines of communication open”, said Defense Minister Guido Crosetto.
“The Red Sea region, following the threat and the Houthi attacks, has made this area central in the geostrategic and geopolitical landscape for the European Union. The EU’s decision to launch a new mission in the Red Sea to protect the trade routes is confirmation of this. Italy was asked to provide the Force Commander of the ASPIDES operation. This is further recognition of the work carried out by the Government, Defense and the Navy” – continued Minister Crosetto underlining that – ” Our commitment to these missions underlines Italy’s determination to actively contribute to international peace and security. We are aware of the challenges that await us, but we are also confident in our ability to face them successfully, thanks to professionalism and excellence of our Armed Forces as well as the solid collaboration with our allies and international partners”. Admiral Saladino will exercise the functions of Force Commander on board the Frigate Federico Martinengo until June. The aim of Operation Atalanta is to prevent and repress acts of piracy in the Area of operations, which includes the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, also guaranteeing the protection of the merchant units of the World Food Program (WFP), assigned to the transport of humanitarian aid to Somalia and Yemen. Ship Martinengo, under the command of Frigate Captain Piergiorgio Ferroni, before arriving in Djibouti, was engaged in the Red Sea in ensuring maritime surveillance and in the protection of merchant units in transit to guarantee the freedom of trade routes.