Swede now heading up Operation Atalanta force HQ

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Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren of the Royal Swedish Navy assumed command of Operation Atalanta’s Force Headquarters (FHQ) during a ceremony held in Djibouti last week.

The new FHQ staff, which is embarked in Royal Netherlands Navy warship, HNLMS Johan de Witt, comes from 15 European Union member states.

Haggren will lead the EU Naval Force at sea for three months and it is the second time Sweden has led the EU’s counter-piracy task force off the coast of Somalia.

“I am looking forward to this and am confident we will do our best to support the operation.” he said.

Haggren assumed Force Command from Rear Admiral Guido Rando of the Italian Navy and during the handover ceremony he stated his intention to continue the work Rando and his staff had done aboard the Italian warship ITS Andrea Doria.

“I want thank and congratulate my predecessor and his crew. Guido, thank you for enduring delivery towards this important mission,” the Swede said.

Rando had been Force Commander on board Italian warship ITS Andrea Doria since September 2014. At the ceremony he expressed his gratitude towards his own FHQ staff and crew.

“I want to thank to my staff and the crew of ITS Andrea Doria as well as all the personnel in the EU Naval Force. To be Force Commander has been my greatest honour and given me immense professional and personal pride.”

The EU Naval Force, in co-operation with counter-piracy partners, has been effective in reducing pirate attacks off the horn of Africa. At the height of Somali piracy in January 2011, 736 hostages and 32 ships were being held by pirates. As of February this year, no ships are being held.

“But we must not forget 30 hostages are still in captivity and the threat from piracy remains.” Haggren said.

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