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Greek frigate Hydra departs for Red Sea to join Operation ‘Aspides'

The Hellenic Navy's frigate Hydra is pictured at Salamis Naval Station prior to departing for the Red Sea on 26 February. (Hellenic MoD)

The Hellenic Navy has despatched its lead Hydra (MEKO 200 HN)-class frigate to the Red Sea where it will participate in the European Union's (EU's) new maritime security mission Operation ‘Aspides'.

The EU officially launched Operation ‘Aspides' on 19 February to help protect commercial shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden from the ongoing attacks by Iran-backed Ansar Allah (commonly known as Houthis) militants in Yemen.

Hydra (F 452) set sail from Salamis Naval Station near Piraeus, Athens, bound for the Red Sea on 26 February, the Greek Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

The ship's departure follows a decision by the Greek government earlier that day to formally approve a proposal for the country to participate in and lead ‘Aspides', in addition to sending a Greek frigate.

The Greek government first announced plans to send a frigate to the Red Sea in December 2023 to help protect shipping from Houthi attacks that have been ongoing since the beginning of November 2023. Greek-owned commercial ships have been targeted multiple times during the course of the Houthi campaign, resulting in a significant reduction in shipping activity at the country's biggest Port of Piraeus.

Headquartered in Larissa, ‘Aspides' is being led by Greek Commodore Vasilios Griparis, with Italian Rear Admiral Stefano Costantino serving as force commander.

The mission's mandate is ‘defensive' in nature, with activities limited to the provision of maritime security awareness, and escorting and protecting civilian vessels from potential multidomain attacks. The operation will be deployed at sea with ships and air assets only, with no operations to take place on land.

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