OFF SOMALIA --
Operation Atalanta’s Spanish maritime patrol aircrew,
based in Djibouti, fly air missions over the Indian Ocean and Gulf
of Aden on a regular basis.
Their key role is to keep a
sharp look out over the sea and along the Somali coast for any
potential pirate activity.
As well as this important counter-piracy work, the Spanish
aircrew also regularly performs Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMC)
tasks that benefit seafarers in the area.
The Spanish Air Force’s P-3 aircraft provides a Search and Rescue
role to merchant ships transiting the waters off Somalia.
A life-raft is carried on all flights which can be deployed if
the aircrew sees a vessel in distress.
Regular broadcasts are made on Channel 16 Maritime Mobile Service
to ensure ships know that the Operation Atalanta aircraft is flying
in the vicinity.
The broadcasts also serve to deter would-be pirates as they
remind them of EU NAVFOR’s presence.
Since November 2015 Operation Atalanta aircraft have also flown
over the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO)
Fish-Aggregating Devices (FADs).
These large, yellow buoys were deployed along the Somali coast in
an UN initiative to help increase fish stocks for local fishermen.
During their over flights, the Spanish aircrew check the position
and condition of the buoys to ensure that the fishermen are still
able to benefit from them.
Maritime patrol aircraft provide the Operation Atalanta force
commander with a highly-versatile capability that can respond to a
developing incident at sea very quickly.
It can gather critical information about activity along the coast
and far out to sea. Undertaking CIMIC tasking is an added benefit
and another example of how EU NAVFOR is helping local seafarers off
the coast of Somalia.