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EU decides to protect against Houthi attacks

Caption: The frigate "Hessen" is to support other European warships as part of the Aspides mission

The Houthis have been attacking international shipping in the Red Sea from Yemen for months. Today, the EU foreign ministers decided on a new military operation to protect the ships.

The foreign ministers of the European Union today decided on a mission to secure merchant shipping in the Red Sea and adjacent sea areas.

The operation will be known as “Apsides”, which means “protector” in Greek. Provided the Bundestag gives its approval next Friday, the frigate “Hessen” will be deployed as part of the military operation.

Fregatte »Hessen«
On February 8, 2024, the frigate Hessen sailed out into the Red Sea for deployment

The “Hessen” is to patrol with other European naval vessels, primarily in the southern Red Sea and in the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The aim of the mission is to accompany merchant shipping and protect it in the event of an emergency. However, the Houthi militia should not be pursued proactively, it is said.

As the EU announced today, the operation will be active along the most important sea routes in the Strait of Baab al-Mandab and the Strait 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.

“Hessen” designed for maritime surveillance

The “Hessen” was specially designed for escort and maritime patrol. Among other things, it is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles with a range of more than 160 km. It also has radar systems that can monitor airspace the size of the North Sea.

The computer at the heart of the Sachsen class vessel is the command and weapon deployment system (FüWES): it processes all the data from the radars and other sensors as well as the information provided by allied ships. The system is redundantly distributed across more than a dozen computers on board. There are around 240 soldiers on board the 143-meter-long “Hessen”.

Huthi militia attacking since October

Shipping in the Red Sea has come to a partial standstill since the beginning of October due to attacks by the Houthi militia. The EU mission “Aspides“, which is planned with three ships, aircraft and drones, is taking place in addition to the US-led military operation “Prosperity Guardian“.

For the Inspector of the German Navy, Jan Christian Kaack, it is “the most serious deployment of a German naval unit for many decades.”

Greece takes command

The commander of the operation is Commodore Vasilios Griparis, and the commander of the armed forces is Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino, the EU announced today. The operation will be headquartered in Larissa, Greece.

Operation Aspides will coordinate closely with Eunavfor Atalanta to contribute to maritime security in the West Indies and the Red Sea, as well as with like-minded partners contributing to maritime security in their area of operations.

“With the launch of ‘Eunavfor Apsiden’, the European Union is responding swiftly to the need to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a highly strategic maritime corridor. The operation will play a key role in safeguarding trade and security interests in the interests of the EU and the international community as a whole,” says Josep Borrell, the European Union’s Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

»Hessen« soll vor Huthi-Eingriffen schützen
The frigate “Hessen” is to support other European warships as part of the Aspides operation

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