31 January 2018

Somalia: EU NAVFOR Officer Receives EU Medal and Commendation

press release

A EU NAVFOR Staff Officer has received his EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Service Medal and a commendation for his contribution to Operation Atalanta.

Lieutenant Commander Helmer Kerkhoff of the Royal Netherlands Navy has spent six months working as the Deputy Assistant Chief Of Staff at the EU NAVFOR Headquarters in Northwood, London. The Deputy Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Alfonso Pérez de Nanclares y Pérez de Acevedo presented Helmer with the commendation and said: "He is a very professional and hard-working officer" adding: "He produces work of the highest standard. We wish him all the best of luck for the future as he returns to Holland."

The CSDP Service Medal is an international military decoration awarded to both military and civilian personnel who have served with CSDP missions. On the front of the medal is the EU circle of 12 five pointed stars; the rear contains the Latin phrase, Pro Pace Unum, meaning "United for Peace." The medal is suspended from a 36 mm ribbon in EU blue with either a gold centre stripe for personnel deployed in the area of operations, or a white stripe for non-deployed headquarters, planning and support staff.

Personnel of the Spanish Air Force Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachment based in Djibouti, Somalia, received their CSDP Service Medals in recognition of their participation in Operation Atalanta on 23rd January 2017. Their Orion P-3 aircraft regularly flies along the Somalia Coast, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean on the lookout for pirate activity.

Operation Atalanta, is a counter-piracy operation at sea off the Horn of Africa conducted by EU NAVFOR. It launched in December 2008 with a focus on protecting Somalia-bound vessels and shipments belonging to the World Food Programme, as well as other vulnerable shipments. Operation Atalanta monitors fishing activity on the regional seaboard. It is part of a larger global action by the EU to prevent and combat acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean, working alongside local and international partners.

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