Monday, August 1, 2011

New Commander Takes Over EU Anti Piracy Team

Rear Admiral Potts Charged with Safe Passage of Aid
Shipping News Feature

SOMALIA – Today (1st August) Major General Buster Howes OBE handed over the responsibility of Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Somalia, Operation Atalanta to Rear Admiral Duncan Potts. Rear Admiral Potts has extensive operational experience across the Joint Environment within both the United Kingdom and multi-national defence organizations, particularly in the Middle East Region and his new role involves the safe delivery of freight consignments of aid to the stricken region and dealing with increasing piracy of all types of vessel.

Rear Admiral Potts has enjoyed Sea Command at the rank of Commander and Captain as well as Operational Command as a Commodore, where he was the Coalition Commander in the Northern Gulf, he assumed his current appointment as Commander United Kingdom Maritime Forces on promotion to Rear Admiral in January 2011.On taking up his new appointment, Admiral Potts commented:

“I am very much looking forward to the challenges of this demanding post and seek to continue to develop on the excellent work of my predecessors. Given the current humanitarian situation within Somalia, my first priority on assuming Command is ensuring the safe passage of World Food Programme Shipping to allow it to freely enter Somalia.

“I am therefore keen to ensure that the EUNAVFOR is as efficient and effective as possible in the delivery of its primary mission, plus its wider Counter Piracy challenge.”

Major General Howes, who joined the operation in June 2010, has been instrumental in shaping the development of EU NAVFOR and the execution of the Operation Atalanta mission. Major General Howes leaves EU NAVFOR to continue his appointment as Commandant General Royal Marines.

The news comes as a maritime security alert was being issued after pirates in the Gulf of Guinea seized two Panamanian-registered ships on 31st July, staging the second attack in the area in just under a week. Nearly a dozen heavily armed pirates boarded the two vessels which were carrying diesel off the coast of Benin, but they fled after being intercepted by a naval boat.

Piracy is rising in the Gulf of Guinea and while it is not likely to hit the levels seen off Somalia where law-enforcement is far worse, the issue is likely to intensify further unless the region's weak naval and coastguard defences are increased. 

Photo:- Major General Howes (L) hands over to Rear Admiral Duncan Potts (R).