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.