The launch of the naval military mission EUNAVFOR ASPIDES to protect navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf from Houthi attacks was officially announced by the Council of the EU, after the final approval of the decision by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs within the framework of the Foreign Affairs Council which is underway in Brussels.
“The operation will play a key role in safeguarding commercial and security interests, for the benefit of the EU and the wider international community,” said High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell.
As announced, the headquarters of the operation will be Larissa in Greece, the commander of the operation will be the Greek captain-in-chief Vasilios Gryparis, and the commander of the force will be the Italian vice-admiral Stefano Constantino.
Operation ASPIDES will be active along the main sea lines of communication in the Straits of Bab el-Madeb and the Straits of Hormuz, as well as in the international waters of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf Gulf.
The aim of the naval mission is to address the situation created since October 2023, due to the attacks on commercial ships by the Houthis of Yemen, on the occasion of Israel’s attack against Hamas and the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
The mission will have a defensive mandate, providing maritime situational awareness, escorting vessels passing through the area, and protecting them from potential attacks.
The new operation will be closely coordinated with EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, which is tasked with countering piracy in the region, as well as with EU partners.
In her post on the X platform (formerly Twitter), the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomed the decision, stressing that “Europe will ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, working together with our international partners”.
“Beyond responding to the crisis, it is a step towards a stronger maritime presence of Europe to protect our European interests” he added.