Greek frigate sails to join EU's Red Sea naval operation

International |  IANS  | Published :

Athens, Feb 28 (IANS) A frigate of the Hellenic Navy was sailing as part of a European Union (EU) maritime security operation to protect free navigation in the Red Sea, the Greek government said.

The vessel "Hydra" departed from the naval station of Salamina Island near Athens on Monday evening, heading toward the Red Sea, as the government decided to participate in the EU naval mission, codenamed "ASPIDES" (meaning "shields" in Greek), Greek government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis said on Tuesday.

Last week, the Council of the EU announced the "ASPIDES" operation, with the aim of safeguarding its commercial and security interests in the Red Sea and the Gulf, will be headquartered in Larissa city in central Greece, Xinhua news agency reported.

Greek-owned commercial vessels have been among those targeted by Yemen's armed Houthi group since the flare-ups in the Gaza Strip. The Houthis, who control part of Yemen, have been attacking ships bound for Israel or linked to Israel, a move the group claims to show solidarity with Palestinians and press for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The turmoil in the Red Sea has forced shipping companies to divert merchant vessels.

EU Commissioner for Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, said recently that delivery time for shipments between Asia and the EU has increased by 10-15 days, and costs for such shipments up by around 400 per cent.

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