On September 17, 2015, the Commander in Chief of the Italian Fleet (CINCNAV), Vice Admiral Filippo Maria Foffi has assumed the Command of the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR), relieving the Spanish Admiral Javier Franco Suanzes (the Spanish Admiral of the Fleet - ALFLOT).
The Change of Command Ceremony (CoCC) took place on board of the Italian Navy warship Giuseppe Garibaldi, in the Naval Base of Taranto and was chaired by the Italian Chief of Defense, General Claudio Graziano.
Admiral Fernando García Sánchez, the Spanish Chief of Defense and the Portuguese Lieutenant-General Sílvio Sampaio, representing the CHOD, were present among others several diplomatic, military and local authorities.
The others two Chiefs of the Fleets of four EUROMARFOR nations, Admiral Denis Beraud (French Admiral commanding the Naval Action Force - ALFAN) and Vice Admiral Pereira da Cunha (Portuguese Fleet Commander - COMNAV) attended the EUROMARFOR Command handover ceremony.
Greece and Turkey, the two nations having officers as observers in EUROMARFOR Permanent Cell, were also represented in the ceremony at diplomatic and military level.
In his farewell speech, Vice Admiral Franco Suanzes, as former COMEUROMARFOR, stressed that EUROMARFOR has given proof during this last twenty years of its worth on several occasions in defense of European interests and that ''It is important to continue working in line with the Maritime Security Strategies adopted by the European Union and NATO, with special attention to the new threats'' just because through the cohesion and collaboration passes the security of the Mediterranean area. Hence, he also underlined the importance of EUROMARFOR for the European countries and mentioned all the activities developed by EUROMARFOR in the last two years under the Spanish Command. In this period, EUROMARFOR has been activated for two exercises involving mine-hunter components (Italian MINEX 14 and the Spanish MINEX 15), one exercise with naval escort units (the Portuguese CONTEX-PHIBEX 15) and one Multicooperative exercise with the Royal Moroccan Navy (MCE 14). During the same period three operational activations contributed to Operation Atalanta with very good results, as the protection of the sea lines of communications has been completely achieved, without any successful piracy attack.
Vice Admiral Foffi, the COMEUROMARFOR, in his inaugural address, highlighted the validity and importance of EUROMARFOR “this is the evidence of our Governments commitment in support of the European Security and Defence Strategy”.
The COMEUROMARFOR has stressed the importance of the European Maritime Force “… the key enablers to influence events on the ground, through operations from the sea…", having all capabilities to successfully operate in any crisis management scenario, for maritime cooperation and security and to maintain peace and stability wherever necessary, “… especially in a time in which we recognize current economic difficulties and the world poses extremely challenging, complex and unpredictable scenarios, our navies, with their credible, effective, well-balanced and adaptive fleets, are ready to meet all these challenges”.
Vice Admiral Foffi does believes in training and operating together - increasing our skills and maintaining interoperability - in order to be always ready to deal with all type of emerging crisis, all over the European area of interests.
The Italian Chief of Defence, General Claudio Graziano, recalled to the situation that Europe is facing stressing that ''…it is obvious to let the EU fully play its role as a security provider, we ought to promote collaborations among our forces and to further enhance their capabilities and interoperability, always maintaining the mind-set and conventional competencies essential for the protection of our countries, in every environment, including the new cyber domain. In doing so, we have to capitalize on the existing operational frameworks, such as this European Maritime Force, and by building on the experience gained to date”.
Italy has assumed, for the next two years, the Operational Command of the EUROMARFOR for the fourth time in twenty years of its existence.