On Thursday 11 August 2017 the EU Naval Force Montenegrin Maritime Protection team, which has been embarked on World Food Programme (WFP) vessel, MV Esbjerg, to protect it from pirate attack as it sailed along the Somali coast, has been awarded the Operation Atalanta medal for their outstanding efforts.
The Maritime Protection team, which is known as an Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment, or AVPD, has served with Operation Atalanta since May 2017. As a result they were eligible for the EU Common Security and Defence Policy medal, which was presented by the Officer in Charge of Support Element Atalanta in Djibouti.
During the three month deployment, the Montenegrin Maritime Protection team help deliver over 10,000 tonnes of food relief to the people of Somalia aboard WFP vessel MV Esbjerg.
Protecting vulnerable vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden is one of Operation Atalanta’s key tasks. As a counter-piracy operation, Atalanta is mandated to not only provide protection to vessels, but to also deter and disrupt piracy in the seas off the Somali coast. AVPDs provide the Force Commander with greater flexibility when tasking his assets as a warship is not required to directly ensure the WFP vessel’s safety and can therefore focus on another geographical area or task, ensuring maritime security is best maintained.