Maltese soldiers practise to take on the Somali pirates.
Times of Malta
Friday, April 20, 2012
The government is considering sending more Maltese soldiers to take part in an EU, anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast.
Following a recent EU decision to extend Operation Atalanta by two
years until the end of 2014, a government spokesman said that Malta
would continue to take part in the mission, primarily through a fixed
presence at the operation’s headquarters in the UK. It was also possible
more troops would be deployed to take part directly in action in the
“Malta intends to maintain a presence in the operation’s headquarters
and is also considering the option of contributing further to this
mission in the future with another vessel protection detachment (VPD),”
the spokesman said.
Since the beginning of the operation at the end of 2008, Malta has
constantly deployed an Armed Forces of Malta officer to the UK
headquarters of the operation. The deployment lasts for six-month.
In 2010, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Dutch
Ministry of Defence that catered for a 12-person (two officers and 10
other ranks) Maltese VPD to serve on the Dutch naval vessel HNLMS Johan
Malta last year extended its support by deploying a second VPD – also
comprising 12 people – on board the Dutch naval vessel HNLMS
In both cases, the detachment, together with the Dutch parent vessel,
successfully protected World Food Programme and African Union-chartered
Piracy off the Somali coast has been a threat to international
shipping since the beginning of the civil war in that country. Since
2005, many international bodies have expressed concern over the rise in
acts of piracy that also contributed to an increase in shipping costs
and hampered the delivery of food aid. Tens of ships, including
Maltese-registered vessels, were hijacked by Somali pirates who then
negotiated their release for a massive ransom.