Fourteen Lithuanian troops are Wednesday leaving Vilnius to join the European Union-led counter-piracy and armed robbery at sea operation, EU NAVFOR – Operation ATALANTA, off the coast of Somalia, the Defence Ministry said.
The fourth rotation of the autonomous vessel protection group will last until next March.
The unit consists of troops of Lithuania's Navy and will guard the World Food Program vessel delivering humanitarian assistance, mainly to the people of Somalia.
Over the four months, the group will cover about 7,000 nautical miles or 13,000 km.
Currently, Lithuania has one officer in the ATALANTA operation, serving in the mission operational headquarters in the United Kingdom.
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.
Lithuania was the most active in the operation in August through December of 2013 when it had 20 troops stationed off Somalia.
Currently, the EU-led operation involves about 1,000 troops from EU member-states and partner nations, as well as warships and warplanes.