The F-80 frigate ‘Reina Sofía’ has just returned home after a four and a half month-deployment in the Indian Ocean.

The welcoming ceremony was presided over by the Fleet Commander (ALFLOT) Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río who was accompanied by other military authorities and family members of the ship’s crew.

In a brief speech, ALFLOT thanked the crew for their efforts and dedication to fulfill the mission entrusted, stressing the significance of the presence of Spanish Navy units in the Indian Ocean protecting shipping and trawlers working in that area.

Worth mentioning was the participation of the ‘Reina Sofía’ in the evacuation of 162 people in Port Sudan when the crisis in that part of the world started on April 27. The Spanish Navy responded to the European Union petition to evacuate civilian personnel from Sudan.

On May 4, the frigate entered Port Sudan. The ship’s ‘Force Protection’ team provided all the necessary elements of surveillance and armament to guarantee the safety of all involved. During the stay in port this team remained activated to provide coverage to the evacuated personnel during the embarkation process.

On May 5, the evacuation from the hotel to the frigate took place. The designated hotel had served as a meeting point for the civilian personnel to be transferred to the ship. Once on board, and after their proper identification, they were offered medical assistance and all their needs for accommodation and provisioning on board were met. In the afternoon of the same day, the ship set sail for the port of Jeddah at high speed, taking full advantage of the platform’s capability to disembark the 162 evacuated personnel in a matter of hours and facilitate their arrival at their destination as soon as possible.

In addition to operating as flagship of Operation ‘Atalanta’, the frigate, under command of Cdr. Juan José Belizón, had the following units on board:
An embarked air unit (AB-212 helicopter) for tactical transport of troops, fire support and medical evacuations.

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ‘ScanEagle’ used primarily to identify, surveil and reconnoiter possible targets of interest and support the Special Operations units.
A Maritime Special Operations Tactical Unit of the Special Naval Warfare Force, capable of performing SPECOPS like direct military action, reconnaissance and surveillance, and military assistance, as well as other additional tasks like the extraction of non-combatant personnel from conflict zones (NEO Operations) or Hostage Rescue missions. The frigate has also basic medical capability including the possibility of urgent surgical operations.

These capabilities, and thanks to the high level of training of the crew, permitted to successfully meet an unexpected crisis situation showing, once again, the immediate response capability of Spanish Navy units.