German Navy units will no longer be taking part in operation Sophia – an EU-led effort to tackle migrant smugglers in the Mediterranean sea, German officials have announced.
Bremen class frigate FGS AUGSBURG F 213 is currently deployed to operation Sophia and will not be replaced by another German Navy ship once her deployment ends early February.
Bundeswehr Inspector General Eberhard Zorn informed members of Germany’s Defense and Foreign Affairs offices of the decision not to replace FGS AUGSBURG F 213 with the Berlin Class Combat Support Ship FGS BERLIN A 1411.
The decision on the withdrawal is reportedly the result of Italy’s refusal to allow rescued migrants to be disembarked at its ports.
The Inspector of the German Navy, Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, said the decision to pull out of the operation was good news for the German Navy which would now have more at-sea days at its disposal that could be used for training.
Established in 2015, the EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia is tasked with identifying, capturing and disposing of vessels and assets used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, in order to contribute to wider EU efforts to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean.
The German government is reportedly at odds with Italy’s current hard line on migration. German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen subsequently went so far as to accuse the Italian commanders of the operation of having deliberately deployed FGS AUGSBURG F 213 to areas where there was no IM activity.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs , Federica Mogherini, responded by saying that the continuation of Operation Sophia was now under review. She was, perhaps, signalling awareness that other European defence leaders might also be tiring of the commitment
A substantial body of opinion in the EU reportedly believes that the operation should be civilianised, although how this could be achieved is not immediately apparent.
Photos by Capt. Lawrence Dalli. Do not use these images without my permission. © All rights reserved. Malta Ship Photos & Action Photos – www.maltashipphotos.com