The European Council launched the EUNAVFOR ASPIDES, on Monday, a defensive maritime operation aimed at restoring and securing free passage of commercial vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf as a response to Houthi attacks in the sea area.

High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stated: “With the launch of EUNAVFOR ASPIDES, the European Union is responding swiftly to the necessity to restore maritime security and freedom of navigation in a highly strategic maritime corridor. The operation will play a key role in safeguarding commercial and security interests, for the sake of the EU and the wider international community.”

Borrell went on to say that the operation would cover the main sea lines of communication in the Baab al-Mandab Strait and the Strait of Hormuz, as well as international waters in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, and the Persian Gulf.

The Operation Commander will be Commodore Vasilios Griparis, and the Force Commander will be Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino, while the headquarters will be based in Larissa, Greece.

Operation ASPIDES will coordinate with the EUNAVFOR ATALANTA, formally European Union Naval Force Somalia, which is an ongoing counter-piracy military operation at sea off the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean, to boost maritime security in its area of operation.

Since October 2023, numerous Houthi attacks have targeted vessels in the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, including Greek-owned vessels, jeopardizing the lives of crewmembers on merchant and commercial ships.

On Jan. 1o, 2024, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2722 (2024), condemning the Houthi attacks, underlining the significance of the freedom of vessels of all states in the Red Sea, including merchant and commercial vessels transiting the Baab al Mandab Strait.