On 17 July 2023, the Force Commander of EU NAVFOR Operation ATALANTA (FCDR), Spanish Rear Admiral Juan María Ibáñez Martín, handed over the Command of Task Force 465 to Italian Rear Admiral Fabrizio Rutteri. The Operation Commander (OPCDR) of the European Union Naval Force Operation ATALANTA, Vice Admiral (VADM) José María Nuñez Torrente chaired the ceremony, which took place on board of the ESPS NAVARRA and the ITS DURAND DE LA PENNE. Both warships were moored side by side in the Port of Djibouti. In addition, the Marina Militare “Destroyer” will be the Operation ATALANTA flagship for the following months.

Several international civilian and military authorities attended the ceremony along with local authorities. During the event, the OPCDR thanked outgoing RA Ibáñez, in command since 15 February 2023, for his leadership and compromise in the accomplishment of the operation tasks, and congratulated the 43nd Rotation for their dedication and effort during the deployment.

Finally, OPCDR welcomed RA Rutteri and the FHQ Staff, wishing them the best of success. “Fabrizio, you are at the start of a great operational and personal experience. Be assured that you will find a capable force at sea, a network of military and civilian actors you can cooperate with, and friends and major partners in regional states you can rely upon”, OPCDR said.

The 43rd Rotation has completed a successful deployment, most notably the participation in the evacuation of personnel from Sudan conducted by the ESPS REINA SOFIA, and the two counter-narcotics operations carried out by the French ships DIXMUDE, LA FAYETTE (in March 2023) and SURCOUF (in May 2023).

RADM Ibáñez Martín said, “Over the past five months, the operation has gone through a period of transition. Enhanced tasks, extended area of operations. However, thanks to the efforts of my staff and the units under my command, I believe I am leaving the operation in a new normal that will set the European Union as a provider of maritime security in this area”.

The new staff of Operation Atalanta FHQ’s 44th Rotation is composed of members from seven different nations: Italy, Spain, Colombia, Serbia, Montenegro, the Republic of Korea, and Djibouti.

RADM Rutteri said, “Together with my staff, the crews of ITS Durand de la Penne and ESPS Navarra and all military and civilian personnel ashore belonging to the European Union missions and operations, we will continue the work done, enforcing Operation Atalanta role as maritime security provider in the area while cooperating with allied and partners maritime forces which share the same strategic objectives”.

The FHQ, under the command of the Operation Headquarters (OHQ) in Rota (Spain), is an embarked headquarter forward deployed to Atalanta’s Area of Operation, responsible for the Tactical Command of all EUNAVFOR multinational assets in the area. Its main responsibility is conducting operations at the operational and tactical level, in accordance with the Atalanta Operation mandate and under OHQ guidance.