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14 Lithuanian servicemembers deploying to the EU Operation ATALANTA off the Somali coast


On November 29 the fourth Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD-4) comprised of 14 Lithuanian soldiers is deployed to the European Union multinational Operation ATALANTA. The Lithuanian rotation will serve in the operation off the Somali coast countering piracy and armed robbery in the Indian Ocean efforts until early March of 2018.


“Have respect for one another and in difficult moments remember that you represent your country,” Commander of the Lithuanian Navy Captain (Navy) Arūnas Mockus said in the deployment ceremony of the AVPD-4 formed by the Lithuanian Navy soldiers.


The rotation will be providing protection for the World Food Programme-chartered MV Esbjerg vessel carrying humanitarian aid to the people of Somali. During the coming four months the AVPD-4 will sail roughly 7 thousand nautical miles (approx. 13 thousand km) aboard the ship. Lithuanians will take over the protection of MV Esbjerg from soldiers of Serbia. The bulk of the humanitarian aid delivered to Somalians is food.


The AVPD-4 is constituted of 12 soldiers trained specifically for this operation: 11 members of the Lithuanian Navy and one soldier of MD Jonas Basanavičius Military Medical Service. Also, two logistical support specialists of the Logistical Command assigned to the AVPD-4 will function as the National Support Element and arrange and coordinate logistical provision for the AVPD-4 personnel.


Lithuania’s contribution to the EU-led multinational operations helps fighting international crises and strengthens the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. Lithuania has been taking part of Operation ATALANTA since 2011 by assigning one Lithuanian Navy staff officer to the operational headquarters in Northwood (UK), deploying AVPDs, and one more Lithuanian Navy officer to the ATALANTA command ship.


The EU Naval Force- Operation ATALANTA was launched in 2008 in response to the growing numbers of piracy cases off the coast of Somalia. Military vessels taking part in the operation provide escort to the WFP vessels transporting aid to the people of Somalia, deter and seize pirates and armed robbers in the area of operation.


Currently, the total strength of the operation is roughly 1 thousand troops, also ships and aircraft, from across the EU and partner countries.


Photo credit: Lithuanian Navy

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