The European Union mission “ASPEDS” is expected to begin within a week, which is the mission in the Red Sea to protect commercial ships from attacks by Houthi rebels. The mission is an initiative of Italy, France and Greece. But other countries will join as well. For example, Germany has already sent a frigate to the Red Sea. Spain has made clear that it will not participate.
Hessians in archive footage But conditions couldn't have been much different yesterday in the Bay of Biscay. Today the ship sails along the Portuguese coast to the Strait of Gibraltar. (Photo: German Navy)
“Aspids” (“shields” in Greek) is on the agenda in Brussels next Monday, February 19. This is the EU's mission, according to several Media,defensive mission. Therefore, the participating countries will focus entirely on defending ships in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab and the Gulf of Aden. The final green light from Brussels is also expected to signal the start of this European mission.
Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto told Naval News that the Aspides will include at least three ships as well as intelligence units, logistical support, aerial photo construction, protection against cyber threats, satellite support and strategic communications units. There will also be cooperation with the European Union Delegation in Atalanta.
According to Greek media, the mission's headquarters will be at the air base in Larissa, more than 200 kilometers northwest of Athens. Italy assumes naval command.
In anticipation of the start of the mission, Italy has already sent a frigate to the Red Sea. The Caio Duilio (Orizzonte class) arrived in the Red Sea earlier this month.
The German frigate Hessen (Saxony class) left its home port last week and is currently approaching the Mediterranean Sea. The frigate's participation in the mission still must obtain approval from the German Parliament, but according to German media this is just a formality. Belgium is also participating.
France will participate with the FREMM Languedoc frigate (already in the area) and Hydra has not yet left Greece. The Danish frigate Iver Huitfeldt has already been launched, but will join the Prosperity Guardian.
When Operation Aspides begins next week, it will be two months after the US operation Prosperity Guardian was announced. This operation, for which the Netherlands provided two staff officers, got off to a rocky start. This was partly because many countries, hampered by their own constitutions, were unable to participate (including Germany). Spain withdrew after an enthusiastic “yes,” and Italy and France also declared that they did not want a mission under American command.
It was now safer for civilian shipping in the Red Sea, thanks mainly to American Tomahawk missiles.
Aspides allows Germany, France and Italy to operate ships under the EU flag. After the start of Operation Prosperity Guardian, Spain announced its willingness to send ships, but would only send a ship if the operation took place under a NATO or European Union flag. However, Spain now says it does not want to participate. Spain is already supplying Atalanta with a ship, according to the logic of the country where the anti-piracy operation Atalanta is headquartered.
The Netherlands has not yet officially chosen whether it will contribute to a mission in the Red Sea. It is expected that The Hague Zr.Ms. Tromp, who will be sailing through the Red Sea anyway, will participate in one of the two missions in those waters for a few weeks.
The question remains what choice will be made? Our country already participates in Prosperity Guardian, with allies who have traditionally done well with the Navy. The Netherlands could of course choose to join the EU delegation for diplomatic reasons, for example.
Initially, the Netherlands will have a unit for a relatively short period – although this is a lot given the current shortage). Italy has committed the ships on a rotating basis over the next twelve months.
The frigate Louise Marie will contribute on behalf of Belgium, as the Belgian Ministry of Defense already wrote at the end of last month Her website. As far as we know, the M frigate is not yet on its way and, according to the AIS, it will sail between wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea this afternoon.
|Author: Jaime Kariman
Jaime is the founder of Marineschappen.nl and has written more than 1,500 articles on various marine topics. In 2017, he published his non-fiction book In complete secrecy Outside and then a submarine thriller energy. Before Jaime started working at this location full time, he was in the Navy for over 12 years, mostly in a civilian position. Jaime studied communications in Groningen.
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