On 15 March, the German Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD), deployed with the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia Operation Atalanta, transferred the responsibility for the protection of the World Food Programme (WFP) ship MV Caroline Scan to an AVPD from Finland.
The German AVPD returns home after successfully protecting the WFP chartered vessel for five months. The Germans took over the task on 12 October from the Netherlands.
Over the past five months, there have been two rotations of German Marines who have provided protection to the WFP vessel, carrying much-needed food and aid for the Somali people around the Horn of Africa. The MV Caroline Scan has been calling at different ports in Somalia, such as Kismaayo, Mogadishu, Berbera and Bosaso, in order to deliver food and aid.
Deputy Commander of EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Eric Dupont, presented the EU Naval Force Operation Atalanta Medal to the members of the outgoing German team. Several guests including representatives from the German, French, Italian, British and Finnish militaries, as well as representatives from the World Food Programme were in attendance.
They now hand over this important assignment to a Finish AVPD.
Rear Admiral Dupont, said during the handover: ‚ÄúI am very happy to be here today to congratulate and thank the German AVPD for their efforts and welcome the Finnish AVPD to the operation. The protection of the World Food Programme ships is paramount to our operation. You, as AVPD, have a vital role in the counter piracy efforts of Operation Atalanta and as such are an integral part in the EU‚Äôs Comprehensive Approach supporting the establishment of a peaceful and secure environment in Somalia.‚Äù
The commanding officer of the German AVPD said about his deployment: ‚ÄúTo be responsible for the WFP ship, its crew and my team in Somali waters was a challenge, but we felt good about our task and the team was superb. Our preparations such as: learning about the history and situation in Somalia from our Somali translator, tactical training on the WFP ship and with its crew to assure the protection of the aid delivery vessel, and medical training; all guaranteed the perfect functioning of my team. Although we operated autonomously, we always knew we fell under the umbrella of Operation Atalanta.‚Äù
The officer in command of the Finnish AVPD said on this occasion:¬†‚ÄúThe Finnish AVPD are looking forward to this very interesting time. Protecting the World Food Programme ship MV Caroline Scan is a very different environment to that of a warship.¬† The role is very worthwhile and we will continue the good relationship with the crew enjoyed by the German team.¬† Although the piracy incidents are much reduced the team will not become complacent, and will continue training throughout the deployment. The reduction in piracy attacks is reversible.‚Äù
The protection of MV Caroline Scan is highly welcomed by Captain Gerasymov Mykola, Master of the Caroline Scan, who said: ‚ÄúI would like to thank the German AVPD for all their hard work and effort and I wish them a well-earned period of time off.¬† My crew and I are very pleased to welcome the Finnish team onboard and we are very pleased to have them protecting the Caroline Scan.‚Äù
Mr Stefano Porretti, World Food Programme Country Director and Representative to Somalia, also expressed his gratitude to the EU Naval Force on behalf of WFP:¬†‚ÄúI would like to highlight the support of the EU NAVFOR for the humanitarian operation and particularly the WFP.¬† What we have seen today is not just the fact that there are a number of people from different countries that provide the expertise, but it is important to highlight that the efforts of these people are benefitting millions of people inside Somalia. I think that since the inception of Operation Atalanta in 2008 and the deployment of assistance to our cargo vessels, the EU Naval Force has been able to escort food and aid that has saved millions of lives. It is thanks to your efforts that, as of today, the WFP has been able to provide food to about 1.5 million people every single day throughout Somalia. This is my personal thank you as a representative, but my thank you is on behalf of the executive director and once again the millions in Somalia who you have helped. Thank you.‚Äù
The EU Naval Force AVPDs play a crucial part within Operation Atalanta. They protect vessels of the WFP delivering much-needed aid to people in Somalia, thus freeing EU Naval Force vessels from providing a close escort service to WFP vessels, allowing them to conduct counter-piracy tasks in the wider area.