EU NAVFOR – New Deputy Operation Commander

On 4 June 2010, Rear Admiral Bartolomé Bauzá (Spanish Navy) handed over the responsibility of Deputy Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Somalia, Op ATALANTA to Rear Admiral Thomas J. Ernst (German Navy). The handover was conducted in the Operation Headquarters in Northwood near London.

European Union Naval Force Somalia
The outgoing Deputy Operation Commander Rear Admiral Bartolomé Bauzá (left) hands over to the new Deputy Operation Commander Rear Admiral Thomas J. Ernst

Rear Admiral Bauzá, who joined the operation in December 2009, has been instrumental in the continued success of EU NAVFOR and the execution of the Op ATALANTA mission. Rear Admiral Bauzá leaves EU NAVFOR to take up the appointment of Director Operational Preparation Directorate in the NATO HQ, Lisbon.

On the occasion of his handover Rear Admiral Bauzá said: “Operation ATALANTA is part of the EU comprehensive approach towards the stabilisation of Somalia. Op ATALANTA is a framework for co-operation with all the stakeholders. The real value of Op ATALANTA however, lies in the men and women that sail the ships, fly the aircraft and do the staff work each and every day, all year round. To have worked with these men and women has been a privilege.”

A naval aviator by specialisation Rear Admiral Ernst has held a variety of appointments across the German Navy and Ministry of Defence as well as a 3 year tour of duty as Branch Head Politico-Military Affairs in HQ SACLANT, Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Prior to his appointment as Deputy Operation Commander EU NAVFOR, Rear Admiral Ernst commanded the Marineschule Mürwik, and in 2007 he was the Chief of Staff to the State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence in Bonn and Berlin.

On the occasion of assuming the appointment Rear Admiral Ernst said: “EUNAVFOR has achieved outstanding success in the achievement of its primary objective, the protection of WFP and AMISOM shipping. Furthermore, OP ATALANTA in joint effort with partnering navies from many other countries has contributed to enhanced maritime security at the horn of Africa and in the Somali Basin. It is my firm intent and my sincere hope that we will follow this pathway and further enhance coordination and cooperation amongst regional stakeholders. The fight against piracy has to be fought on many fronts. From a navy point of view, however, EUNAVFOR has done very well with regard to protecting WFP and AMISOM shipping off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden. In my first command assignment within an EU framework I am very much looking forward to working with a very experienced multinational staff as well as with other international organisations such as NATO. The ever more increasing coordination and cooperation in the region will certainly stay in our focus for the foreseeable future in order to build the capacities necessary on the side of our partners in the region to ensure maritime security.”

EU NAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Programme (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM and to protect vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean and to deter and disrupt piracy. EU NAVFOR also monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.