Few days ago, the boarding team of the Spanish Santa Maria frigate, which operates in EUNAVFOR Med – operation Sophia, performed a friendly approach on a vessel in International waters off the coast of Libya. A small fishing vessel was visited by the team with the permission of the vessel’s Master and the full cooperation of the crew.
The fishing vessel was on her way back to the homeport, following a maintenance period of four months, before starting the next fishing season.
The Friendly approach, as performed several times by Sophia units, reinforce the security in the area of operation and increase the awareness at sea, consequently providing trust and building confidence on SOPHIA mission.
EUNAVFOR Med operation Sophia is a multifaceted Common Security and Defence Policy operation, focused on disrupting the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers, and contributing to EU efforts for the return of stability and security in Libya and the Central Mediterranean region. From the beginning of the operation, 139 suspected smugglers and traffickers were apprehended by Sophia crews and 540 boats prevented from being re-used by smugglers.
Additionally, from October 2016, the operation is fully involved in the training of the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and in the implementation of the arms embargo off the coast of Libya according to UNSCR 2292(2016) and UNSCR 2357 (2017). Up to now, 188 personnel have been trained by the operation.
The aim of the training is to improve security of the Libyan territorial waters and the Libyan Coastguard and Navy ability to perform the duties in their territorial waters, including search and rescue activities to save lives at sea.
Concerning the arms embargo SOPHIA has carried out 1399 hailings, 86 friendly approaches, 7 Flag enquiries and 3 inspections.