A European flag on one of the vessels (Picture: European Union Naval Force).
The European Council has confirmed the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) will move its headquarters following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.
The Operational Headquarters will be transferred from Northwood, London, to Rota in Spain, while the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) will move to Brest, France, as of 29 March 2019.
The Council has also appointed Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave from the Spanish Navy as the new Operation Commander to take command from Major General Charlie Stickland on the same date.
Major General Stickland said on the announcement of his successor: “I am already working closely with Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave and it is my role to ensure that this operation remains a Common Security and Defence Policy exemplar and that my successor is set up for continued success.
“The transition is being planned with the utmost consideration to ensure it is smooth and seamless with continued cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders throughout the region.”
He added: “During this time Atalanta will be conducting business as usual with the Force Headquarters and ships remaining deployed and conducting deterrence of piracy and protection of [World Food Programme] shipping.”
The EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta contributes to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.
The operation also protects vessels of the World Food Programme and other vulnerable shipping, monitors fishing activities off the coast of Somalia and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.