Operation Atlanta, known as European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia, is a counter-piracy military operation at sea off the Horn of Africa and in the western Indian Ocean. The operational headquarters is currently located in Spain.
Somali-based piracy is characterized by criminals taking control of vessels and extorting ransom money for the crew, the vessel, and cargo. Piracy impacts international trade and maritime security and the economic activities and security of countries in the region.
In responding to piracy and armed robbery in the area, the European Union launched the European Union Naval Force-Operation Atalanta within the framework of the European Common Security and Defence Policy and in accordance with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions(UNSCR) and International Law.
At the beginning of March 2009, Korea dispatched the Cheonghae Unit to serve as a member of combined naval forces to eliminate Somalian piracy. In February 2017 Korea and the EU began to directly cooperate militarily in crisis management when Korea sent the Cheonghae Unit to participate in the EU NAVFOR, Somalia operation. Korea is a global shipping nation and about 30% of its goods transported via shipping passed through the seas near Somalia.
Korea’s participation in the EU’s counter-piracy military operation helps to strengthen maritime security and keeps seafarers safe as shippers transit the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. Moreover, the crisis management cooperation with the EU benefits Korea’s national interests by strengthening its crisis management capabilities through exchanges of experience and knowledge and by forming networks with EU experts.’
Defense Attaché of the Republic of Korea to NATO, Colonel Kim Yong Sun visited the #OpAtalanta Operational Headquarters in Rota to cement the relationship and move to a higher level of cooperation.
With countries in the region voicing concerns about increasing asymmetric threats and illegal activities and demanding a greater involvement of actors present in the region, a more prominent presence of naval assets in the Somali basin would contribute to increased stability and security through cooperative engagement.
The Republic of Korea has been a steady partner for years and is currently contributing personnel to the Force Headquarters deployed in the Area of Operations.