The Lithuanian unit took over from a Serbian AVPD of the EU NAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA, counter-piracy and armed robbery at sea efforts led by the European Union off the Somali coast
On August 5 an Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD) formed by the Lithuanian Navy began their four-month duty of guarding a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) vessel.
The AVPD comprises 16 soldiers, the majority of them are serving with the Lithuanian Navy and have been trained specifically for the mission. The unit also includes two military medics. The Lithuanian military are deployed with their own weaponry and equipment. The AVPD is led by Captain (Navy) Mindaugas Žukas serving with the Lithuanian Navy.
The Autonomous Vessel Protection Detachment (AVPD) formed by the Lithuanian Navy will for four months (August-December) protect a World Food Programme-chartered vessel carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia via the Indian Ocean.
This is the second time Lithuania is contributing an AVPD to Operation ATALANTA. In 2013 the unit was formed by soldiers with the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Infantry Battalion. The most recent AVPD is planned to be completing mission assignments till December and then to be replaced by another Lithuanian Navy-provided unit of equal size.
Lithuania first deployed its capabilities to Operation ATALANTA early in 2011 by commissioning a staff officer of the Lithuanian Navy to EU NAVFOR Operational Headquarters in Northwood, UK. Another Lithuanian navy officer has also been on training since 2013 with a prospect of deployment to the EU-NAVFOR-ATALANTA tactical headquarters aboard a ship. Logistical support to all the Lithuanian military personnel taking part in Operation ATALANTA is the responsibility of two logistics specialists of the Lithuanian Armed Forces deployed to the French-led military base in Djibouti, capital of Djibouti.
One of the largest European Union-led military operations, EU NAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA was launched late in 2008 in response to the rising levels of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. Warships deployed on EU NAVFOR escort WFP ships delivering aid to the Somali people via the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, deter and apprehend pirates and armed robbers in the area of operation. Currently, the total strength of the operation is approx. 1.200 contributed by EU and non-EU member states.
Lithuania takes part in several EU-led operations apart from Operation ATALANTA thus contributing to the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and its implementation.
From spring 2013 Lithuanian military instructors have been deployed to the EU training mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) to provide training for Malian military.
Lithuania also supports the anti-migrant smuggling operation, EUNAVFOR MED, the European Union activated in June to disrupt illegal networks of human trafficking by commissioning a staff officer to the operational headquarters in Rome, Italy.
Source: Lithuanian Armed Forces