Wilhelmshaven, Germany (Feb 8, 2024): The German frigate Hessen departed today on a potential European Union mission to secure merchant ships in the Red Sea from attacks by Yemeni Houthi rebels.
While awaiting final approval from the EU and German parliament, the 240-strong crew set sail from Wilhelmshaven on the North Sea coast. The mission aims to protect the vital shipping lane against Houthi attacks, which have forced some companies to reroute vessels, adding significant time and cost.
The Red Sea corridor carries crucial cargo and oil shipments, connecting Europe with the Suez Canal and trade partners like India and China. Attacks by the Iran-backed Houthis, demanding an end to the Israel-Gaza conflict, have disrupted this vital route.
The planned EU mission, expected to launch later this month, will involve multiple warships and airborne early warning systems. The Hessen, equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and designed for escort and surveillance, will play a key role in this operation.
Comrades, families, and friends bid farewell to the crew, acknowledging the mission’s significance. “It is absolutely clear that the mission is essential,” said Siemtje Möller, a senior defense official.