EU NAVFOR 31st Force Headquarters Ready for Duty

March 9 2019: Counter-piracy operations require a constant presence of maritime forces designed to monitor and deter piracy and armed robbery at sea. EU NAVFOR has been continuing this effort for over 10 years and has maritime and aviation forces continuing to work off the coast of Somalia.

Saturday 9th March saw a ceremony on the EU NAVFOR Warship ESPS Navarra with the Operation Commander, Major General Charlie Stickland OBE, welcoming the next Force Commander, Rear Admiral Ricardo Hernandez. This event marked the start of the 31st Force Rotation since EU NAVFOR began counter-piracy operations in December 2008; each rotation typically sees a four month tour of duty for the Force Headquarters. During this time the ships and aircraft of the Force will conduct counter-piracy patrols to deter attacks; they will conduct friendly approaches with local fisherman to reassure them about security; they will meet key people in the area to discuss issues and to understand more about the situation and they will also help to generate local maritime capability demonstrating and practising skills with local forces.

Importantly they will cooperate and coordinate with other maritime forces including Combined Task Force 151, based in Bahrain and part of Combined Maritime Force. The simple but short ceremony was attended by the Commanding Officer of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force Destroyer Samidare, currently under command of CTF151. The Japanese are soon to mark their own 10th year anniversary committed to counter-piracy operations.

In his speech to the Force Headquarters and the crew of Navarra, Major General Stickland said: “We have come a long way together, and you will now carry on this operation” he added: “EU NAVFOR is more than just ships, it is a network of maritime security capability and you form the centre of this network.” The Force Commander, Rear Admiral Hernandez said: “I take command motivated and determined to continue the work of my predecessors. At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to the Spanish Navy and the EU Military Committee for appointing me to this task and also thanks to you General, for the confidence you have deposited on me.”


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