Somalia: February 7, 2002


As German ships of Operation "Enduring Freedom" take up station off the coast of East Africa, the German navy must rely on army troops to guard it's facilities in Djibouti since it no longer has it's own security forces. 

On 4 February, 40 paratroopers from Germany's 31st Airborne Brigade (Oldenburg) were transferred from Varel (Friesland District) to the Amboulie airport in Djibouti. The airport serves as a base for two German Navy anti-terror fleet Sea King helicopters on the Horn of Africa. These Naval Air Wing 5 (Kiel) aircraft will be needed for transport and liaison tasks between the naval force at sea and the base at Djibouti.

The frigates Koeln [Cologne] and Emden (as well as two supply and support ships) arrived in the port of Djibouti on 2 February, while the rest of the flotilla is expected to arrive on 10 February. The first part of the flotilla left Wilhelmshaven on 2 January and was to make a 26 day cruise from Wilhelmshaven through the Biscayne, the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. 

An advance group of German Navy personnel left Hamburg for Djibouti on 21 January to set up a land-based supply unit for the flotilla. The Republic of Djibouti was chosen over Kenya's Mombassa and the Oman Sultanate, as they were too far from the operational area.

Meanwhile, a team of 26 German soldiers had been dispatched to Kenya to examine whether a base for three "Breguet Atlantic" reconnaissance aircraft could be established at the Indian Ocean port of Mombassa. Kenyan spokesman Jochen Cholin told a news conference that negotiations with authorities in Mombassa were ongoing as of 5 February.

The 1960's-vintage but rebuilt "Breguet Atlantics" slated for Africa would come from Naval Air Group 3 "Graf Zeppelin" in Nordholz (near Cuxhaven). The German Navy considers the African mission a welcome opportunity to illustrate it's problems with aging aircraft. While the purchase of a new fleet of eight to 10 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with Italy had long been on the wish list of Navy Chief of Staff Hans Luessow, no funding had been forthcoming. - Adam Geibel


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