20 Apr 2018

Operation SOPHIA: on board Italian ship San Giusto

ITS San Giusto from 1 February 2018 is the Flagship hosting the Force Headquarter of EUNAVFOR MED op. Sophia

Italian Ship “San Giusto” is one of the 3 naval units operating in the European Union Naval Force – Mediterranean (EUNAFOR MED) Operation Sophia, commanded by Rear Admiral (UH) Enrico CREDENDINO. Sophia is a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) 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

In order to manage the whole operation at a tactical level on board the unit a Force Head Quarter (FHQ) is embarked, directed by Rear Admiral (LH) Alberto Maffeis, and divided into cells covering personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics and finance, planning and training, Communication and Information System (CIS), Civilian and Military Cooperation (CIMIC), medical and legal. The FHQ is composed by an international staff of around 50 members from 15 European nations. The mix of nationalities and skill sets within the staff creates an exciting work environment, which results in a unique and rewarding experience for those who have the opportunity to serve. In addition to professional experience, it is also a great opportunity to meet new people from other countries and many valuable connections are made.

The daily routine of the FHQ Staff is determined by the so called “Battle Rhythm” and FHQ operates on a 24/7 basis. The Chief of Staff coordinates all the staff cells whose combined efforts are driven towards informing the Force Commander about the operational and tactical situation to enable him to make the necessary decisions required to achieve the operational objectives and ultimately achieve the desired end state for the mission. Each day commences with an update brief. Then there are various coordination meetings between the Chief of Staff and the Operation’s Cells. In the afternoon, there is then a Decision Briefing where the FCDR is presented with updates, force flow changes and proposed courses of action. As a result of the Decision Briefing, the plan for the next period is approved and enacted.

ITS San Giusto is one of the Italian Navy’s three amphibious ships, built by Fincantieri Shipyard and commissioned in 1994. Her tasks can range from troop transportation, non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), humanitarian aid and disaster relief, to the most demanding operations such as raids and special forces operations (SPECOPS). The Ship is so capable to act as a command platform, can embark a 100 strong command staff, while her hospital facilities allows her to be used as a Primary Casualties Receiving Ship (PCRS), capable to provide live-saving surgery with medical facilities comprising anaesthesia technology, an Intensive Care Unit, a radiological and a dentistry department, a laboratory, a quarantine cabin, a pharmacy and a dental cabinet.

EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA, launched last June 2015, is but one element of a broader EU comprehensive response to the migration issue, at the moment 27 EU member States are participating in the operation (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and UK) with around 1100 personnel involved.