Photo credits @ KC Group Shipping

European Council launches defensive maritime security operation in the Red Sea

The European Council has launched a defensive maritime security operation called EUNAVFOR ASPIDES to restore and safeguard freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf.

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“With the launch of EUNAVFOR ASPIDES, the European Union is responding swiftly to the necessity to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a highly strategic maritime corridor. The operation will play a key role in safeguarding commercial and security interests, for the sake of the EU and the wider international community, ” said Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the European Council.

As the EU body explained, Operation ASPIDES will ensure an EU naval presence in the area where numerous Houthi attacks have targeted international commercial vessels since October 2023.

In close cooperation with like-minded international partners, ASPIDES will contribute to safeguard maritime security and ensure freedom of navigation, especially for merchant and commercial vessels.

Within its defensive mandate, the operation will provide maritime situational awareness, accompany vessels, and protect them against possible multi-domain attacks at sea.

“The operation will be active along the main sea lines of communication in the Baab al-Mandab Strait and the Strait of Hormuz, as well as international waters in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf.

The Operation Commander will be Commodore Vasilios Griparis, and the Force Commander will be Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino. The Operation headquarters will be based in Larissa, Greece, ” the Council’s press announcement adds.

Operation ASPIDES will coordinate closely with the EUNAVFOR ATALANTA to contribute to maritime security in the West Indian Ocean and in the Red Sea,  as well as, with like-minded partners contributing to maritime security in its area of operation.

As Trans.iNFO has reported, on 29 January 2024, the Council approved a Crisis Management Concept for a possible EU maritime security operation to safeguard freedom of navigation in relation to the Red Sea crisis, with an initial duration of one year from when it is launched.

The operation was formally established on 8 February 2024.