F81 Santa Maria Photo Ralph Edwards 2007-03-30
5 September 2011, EUNAVFOR / Spain: On 5 September, the Spanish frigate SPS Santa Maria ended her participation in Operation ATALANTA after 131 days as a part of the EU NAVFOR Task Force. SPS Santa Maria is the lead ship of a class of six vessels built in Spain to the American Oliver Hazard Perry class design and first commissioned in 1986. SPS Santa Maria is based at Rota in southern Spain.
During the deployment, SPS Santa Maria served under the command of two Force Commanders and two Operational Commanders and had the opportunity to perform most tasks within the Operation ATALANTA mandate; escort of World Food Programme humanitarian food-aid and AMISOM ships and counter-piracy off the Horn of Africa.
On the occasion of her departure, EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Admiral Thomas Jugel, expressed his deep satisfaction and thanks to the warship and her crew. He highlighted the significant contribution SPS Santa Maria had made to the EU NAVFOR mission and for the valuable work of the crew and their accomplishments. The Commanding Officer, Commander Gonzalo Parente, summarized the past months: “My crew thinks that working on this real-life scenario has been a unique experience they will never forget. Serving in the European Union’s first ever naval operation has been an honor and a pleasure. It’s true that working together there is nothing we can’t do.”
EUNAVFOR Somalia – Operation ATALANTA’s main tasks are to escort ships carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Programme (WFP) and vessels of African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), deter and disrupt piracy and protect other vulnerable vessels in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. In addition, EUNAVFOR monitors fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.