September 8, 2020 (Google Translation) – On Thursday, September 10th, 2020, a German P-3C “Orion” type maritime patrol aircraft will be relocating from the Nordholz naval air base to Djibouti again. Until shortly before Christmas around 50 soldiers from Naval Aviation Squadron 3 “Graf Zeppelin” will be part of the EU-led “Atalanta” mission. On average, the “Orion”, nicknamed “Jester”, will start its engines every two days. The operational flights last around eight hours, as the Gulf of Aden and the adjacent waters of the Indian Ocean are monitored.
The German naval aviators have been making a significant contribution to the fight against piracy and to the safety of shipping routes in the Horn of Africa since 2008. The maritime patrol aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art sensors and provides important reconnaissance results from a bird’s eye view. With the help of the radar, all ship movements in the operational area can be recorded. A current picture of the situation can then be passed on to the ships in the operational area via data transfer. A big advantage, because suspicious ships can be located more quickly and, if necessary, tracked and located.
The contingent leader, frigate captain Sascha Siemer (46), is already on site with his soldiers to prepare to receive the P-3C. As the officer in charge, he assumes a great deal of responsibility. “We naval aviators are now the 31st contingent. The corona epidemic has the world firmly under control: distance rules, hygiene measures and a large number of restrictions determine everyday life. We are also facing this particular challenge in Djibouti. We are facing the familiar mission Complexity gained. Compliance with the rules of conduct is extremely important for all contingent members. I see the will and the necessary commitment very clearly. Because the motto is that only a healthy team can fulfill the demanding task, “said Frigate Captain Siemer.
In the Horn of Africa, pirates hijacked numerous ships in order to extort ransom for the crew, ship and cargo. The pirates thereby impaired the safety of the sea and trade routes considerably. The ships and planes of the European Union have since protected the World Food Program convoys to Somalia. They secure the transports destined for the African Union Mission in Somalia. In doing so, they fight and prevent piracy at sea, protect seafarers and enable shipping traffic to pass safely on the main trade routes and help monitor fishing activities off the Somali coast.
Since the start of the operation, the German Navy has provided ships such as frigates, task force supply units, corvettes and P-3C “Orion” long-range reconnaissance aircraft. In addition, there is the staff in the Atalanta support element, which operates the mission’s logistical base in Djibouti and thus a “second home port” in the area of operations for the warships. The headquarters of the operation is in Rota, Spain, where German soldiers are also on duty.