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European Naval Force Seeks to Double Fleet in Red Sea

Juin 22, 2024

Berlin: Asharq Al Awsat


Head of the naval force deployed by the European Union to protect vessels in the Red Sea said it needs to more than double in size because of escalating attacks by Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.

Rear Admiral Vasileios Gryparis told Bloomberg: “We don’t have that many assets and the whole area we have to cover is enormous. I am pressing all the member states to provide more assets.”

Gryparis was in Brussels this week to lobby for additional resources.

The EU mission has a defensive mandate and any increase in the size of its fleet patrolling the Red Sea would be to enable the force to increase its geographic range, rather than adopt a more confrontational stance, he said on Wednesday.

Four EU vessels have been patrolling the waters off the coast of Yemen since February.

In that time, they’ve provided “close assistance” to 164 ships, shot down more than a dozen unmanned aerial vehicles and destroyed four anti-ship ballistic missiles, Gryparis said.

The Houthis in Yemen began attacking vessels last year to pressure Israel and its allies over the war in the Gaza Strip. Their campaign has roiled global shipping, forcing many vessels to sail thousands of miles around southern Africa instead — despite the EU operation and US and UK bombing that began in January, said Bloomberg.

Operation Aspides’ current mandate ends in February 2025, though Gryparis said he expects it to be extended.

The US and UK have also deployed a mission to the region to counter the Houthi Red Sea attacks and protect shipping lanes.

The Houthis have carried out over 150 attacks on commercial ships since November.

The attacks have sunk two ships, one as recently as this week.