The ceremony took location in Rota on Friday. Photo: EU NAVFOR

Spain on Friday took more than from Britain command of a European Union maritime mission that combats piracy off the coast of Somalia as Britain’s planned departure from the bloc nears.

Spanish vice admiral Antonio Martorell relieved British significant general Charlie Strickland as commander of the so-known as “Operation Atalanta” for the duration of a solemn ceremony held at the Rota naval base in southern Spain, exactly where US troop are also stationed.

The ceremony was held on the day Britain was initially set to leave the European Union. British lawmakers voted down an unpopular divorce deal for a third time on Friday.

“It is honestly a sad day for the UK …but it is an thrilling day for Spain,” Strickland stated for the duration of the ceremony.

“Atalanta is so a great deal much more than ships in the Indian Ocean and aircrafts in the skies. Atalanta is a sophisticated multilayered operation employing challenging and soft energy to continue to suppress piracy and to take a highly effective function in the broader safety architecture of this crucial area of the planet.”

The European Council announced in July that it would transfer the headquarters of Atalanta which employs 101 people today from Northwood outdoors of London to Rota.

The operation’s headquarters is just a single of the European institutions which Britain is losing as a outcome of its impending EU exit.   

The European Medicines Agency moved to Amsterdam hile the European Banking Authority was relocated to Paris.   

Whilst Spain took more than the Atalanta’s command centre, France’s historic naval base in Brest on the tip of Brittany won the Maritime Safety Centre of Africa which was also primarily based in Northwood.

The EU launched Atalanta in 2008 to fight brazen acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia, like the spectacular hijacking of a Spanish tuna boat in 2009.

The quantity of attacks off the coast of Somalia in the Indian Ocean has fallen from a peak of 176 in 2011 to just two in 2018, according to Atalanta.   

The European Union has extended Operation Atalanta to 2020 and gave it a spending budget of 12 million euros for 2019 and 2020.   

Italy had also sought to win the headquarters of Atalanta. It had proposed that it be moved to a base in Rome which currently holds the headquarters of Operation Sophia against smugglers of migrants in the central Mediterranean.