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Cablegate: Greek Frigate Completes Eu Anti-Piracy Mission

VZCZCXRO8952
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTH #0467 0931340
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031341Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0029
INFO EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS

UNCLAS ATHENS 000467

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MOPS GR
SUBJECT: GREEK FRIGATE COMPLETES EU ANTI-PIRACY MISSION

1. The Hellenic Navy frigate Psara is winding down a 4-month
deployment in the Gulf of Aden as part of a European Union naval
force battling piracy off Somalia. April 4 marks the end of Greek
Commodore Andionios Papaioannou's four-month tenure as the first
tactical commander of the EU's first naval mission. Dubbed
Operation Atalanta, the mission is led by Britain, from a
headquarters in Northwood, near London.
2. During Commodore Papaioannou and the HS Psara's 4-month
deployment to combat piracy and protect commercial shipping in one
of the world's busiest sea lanes, the Greek warship intervened on
two separate occasions to thwart Somali pirate skiffs. On March 29,
Psara intercepted a pirate craft soon after its crew had
unsuccessfully attempted to board a German-flagged tanker. Greek
commandos arrested several Somali suspects, whom they later turned
over to a German frigate. On April 1, Psara again intervened to
assist a Norwegian freighter that had just successfully evaded the
pirates. Greek commandos again detained a Somali crew, whom they
later released for lack of evidence.
3. Comment: Operation Atalanta has offered an opportunity to the
Hellenic Navy to operate in a top role of a critical multinational
command environment and hone its high seas patrol and escort
skills. It also offered Greece the opportunity to exercise
successful naval diplomacy, including with Chinese Admiral Du Jing
Tsien, Admiral-in-Command of Chinese TG 169 Somalia task force. On
March 20, the Chinese admiral paid a visit to Psara and met with
Commodore Papaioannou and Psara's officers, stressing the
"excellent" relations between Greece and China, and praising the
Hellenic Navy's anti-piracy mission. End comment

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