TARANTO, SEPTEMBER 1 – On August the 31st, on board of the Italian ship San Giusto, moored in Taranto harbour, the Force Commander, Rear Admiral (LH) Andrea Romani (Italian Navy), handed over the Command of Op. Sophia Task Force to Rear Admiral (LH) (Spanish Navy) Javier Moreno.
In the meantime, the Italian Landing Platform Dock ITS San Giusto has completed her employment as Flagship of EUNAVFOR MED – Operation Sophia and now the Spanish ship Cantabria has joined the Task Force, taking over her role.
On board for the event were the Italian Minister of Defence, Roberta Pinotti, the Spanish Minister of Defence, Maria Dolores de Cospedal Garcia, the Italian Chief of Defence , General Claudio Graziano, and the Italian Chief of the Navy, Admiral Valter Girardelli. “During your time as Force Commander, 63 boats have been neutralized of and 8 suspected smugglers have been transferred to the Italian judiciary, thus effectively contributing to fight smugglers and traffickers activities. You have also had to command the Force during a period that has seen increased arms embargo activity, conducting 364 hailings, 16 friendly approaches, as well as 2 boarding, and confiscating for the first time arms found in contravention of the UN arms embargo”, the operation SOPHIA Commander Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino underlined on occasion of the ceremony.
To continue fulfilling the mission assigned following the change of the operation SOPHIA flagship, the Italian Navy is deploying in SOPHIA Task Force the frigate Zeffiro.
“During the coming months your leadership will be crucial for the successful integration of the new mandate into the output of the operation” added Admiral Credendino referring to the new Force Commander.
Thus far, following EUNAVFOR MED activities, 117 suspected smugglers and traffickers have been prosecuted by the Italian authorities and 477 boats were prevented from being re-used by smugglers. On 25 July 2017, the Council extended the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 December 2018 , adding some integrations in the supporting tasks. (@OnuItalia)