The mission core mandate is to undertake systematic efforts to identifycapture and dispose of vessels and enabling assets used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, in order to contribute to wider EU efforts to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean and prevent the further loss of life at sea.
Since 7 October 2015, as agreed by the EU Ambassadors within the Security Committee on 28 September, the operation moved to phase 2 International Waters, which entails boarding, search, seizure and diversion, on the high seas, of vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking.
Last 20 June 2016, the Council extended until 27 July 2017 Operation Sophia’s mandate reinforcing it by adding two supporting tasks:
  • training of the Libyan coastguards and navy;
  • contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.
On 30 August and on 6 September 2016, the PSC authorized the commencement of the capacity building and training and the commencement of the contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo.
Sophia is a baby who was born on 24 August 2015 at 04.15 am on board the German frigate Schleswig-Holstein, operating in the Central Mediterranean Sea as part of EUNAVFOR MED Task Force.
Born from a Somali mother rescued together with other 453 migrants and disembarked on the evening of the same day in the harbour of Taranto, Sophia was named after the German ship dedicated to the Prussian princess Sophia of Schleswig-Holstein (8 April 1866 - 28 April 1952).
“[...] I will suggest to Member States that we change the name of our Operation: instead of calling it EUNAVFOR MED, I suggest we use the name: Sophia. To honour the lives of the people we are saving, the lives of people we want to protect, and to pass the message to the world that fighting the smugglers and the criminal networks is a way of protecting human life”

EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia is designed around 4 phases:

  • the first consists of the deployment of forces to build a comprehensive understanding of smuggling activity and methods, and this phase is now complete;
  • phase two foresees the boarding, search, seizure and diversion of smugglers' vessels on the high seas under the conditions provided for by applicable international law. This activity will be extended into Territorial Waters upon the release of any applicable United Nation Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) and the concerned coastal State consent;
  • the third phase expands this activity further; up to and including taking operational measures against vessels and related assets suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking inside the coastal states territory. Once again, this is subject to the necessary legal framework established by UNSCR and following coastal state consent;
  • finally, the fourth and last phase will consist of withdrawal of forces and completion of the operation.
The European Council is responsible for assessing whether the conditions for transition between the operation phases have been met. On legal side, all of the activities undertaken in each phase adhere to and respect international law, including human rights, humanitarian and refugee law and the “non refoulement” principle meaning that no rescued persons can be disembarked in a third country.

Rear Admiral (Upper Half) Enrico CREDENDINO


Rear Admiral (UH) Enrico CREDENDINO was born on the 21st January 1963 in Turin.

He joined the Italian Naval Academy in 1980 and was commissioned with the rank of Ensign in 1984.

He reported to the cruiser VITTORIO VENETO, the cruiser ANDREA DORIA and the guided missile destroyer ARDITO, in charge as gunnery, missile systems officer, and Operation Officer.

He commanded the patrol vessel SPICA, the frigate MAESTRALE, the 1st Patrollers Squadron – acting also as Command Training School’s Evaluation Officer – and the guided missile destroyer FRANCESCO MIMBELLI.

RA (UH) Enrico CREDENDINO’s ashore commitments included duties as: Commander of Cadets at the Italian Naval Academy; Staff Officer of the Plans and Policy Department of the Italian Navy General Staff – Naval Policy Office; Director of the Cadet Courses of the Italian Naval Academy; Chief of the Alliance Policy Office at the Plans and Policy Department of the Defense General Staff; Deputy Chief of the Plans and Policy Department of the Italian Navy General Staff.

Upon promotion to Rear Admiral (LH) on the 1st of July 2011 he was appointed Deputy Commander of Italian Front Line Naval Forces and Deputy Commander of NATO Italian Maritime Forces, Commander of Spanish/Italian Amphibious Force and Commander of Italian Naval Task Group.

Between August and December 2012 he was appointed Force Commander at European Naval Forces for the counterpiracy mission EUNAVFOR ATALANTA.

From September 2013 he is Head of Plans and Policy Department in the Italian Navy General Staff. He was promoted to Rear Admiral (UH) on 1 st July 2014.

On May 18th, 2015 he has been appointed as Operation Commander for EUNAVFOR MED mission.

During the 1998-1999 academic year he attended the 2nd Advanced Command and Staff Course in the United Kingdom and during the 2007-2008 academic year he attended the 59th course at the “High Studies for Defense Centre” in Rome.

RA (UH) Enrico CREDENDINO obtained a summa cum laude degree certificate in Maritime and Naval Sciences at the University of Pisa, a degree certificate in Political Science at the University of Trieste and a 2 nd level certificate in Security Advanced Studies at the University of Perugia.

He speaks fluent English and he has a good knowledge of the French language.


Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Luc-Marie LEFEBVRE


Rear admiral Luc-Marie Lefebvre graduated in 1983 from the Naval Academy and started a career as a Naval officer and specialized in weapon systems “Gunnery Missiles”. 

During his first years serving the Navy and until 1994, he was appointed in the Med Sea onboard the light frigate “PM L’her”, the anti-submarine warfare frigates “Georges Leygues”, “Jean de Vienne” and the aircraft carrier “Foch”.

He commanded the patrol ship “La Tapageuse” in French Polynesia from 1994 to 1995. He then participated to the established maritime surveillance and support operations of the State at sea in the Polynesian archipelagos. 

He was back in 1995 in the Med Sea zone as he was appointed at the Headquarters of the Naval Action Forces where he was in charge of the follow-up on commissioned “artillery missiles”. He returned at the heart of the Naval Forces in 2001 as the executive officer of the ASW frigate “Montcalm”. From 2002 to 2003, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) within the Naval Action Forces headquarters; an assignment onboard the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle during which he participated to the pre-deployment preparations for the third Gulf war.

He took the command in 2003 in Toulon of the Lafayette Class frigate “Aconit” until 2005. He was involved in numerous allied exercises, a mission to fight terrorism in the Indian Ocean, to the last “Amarante” off the Lebanon coast and complete a deployment in the Black Sea, integrated within a NATO Naval Force. He also took part with the frigate “Aconit” to the first onboard trials of the NH90.

He then joined from 2005 to 2006 the French Maritime Force (FRMARFOR) as DCOSOPS and COS CVBG and took the command of the ASW frigate “Montcalm” in Toulon from 2006 to 2008. 

From 2009 to 2011 he served as Joint Chief of Staff of High command of armed forces in New Caledonia. He then dealt most particularly with the adaptation of the forces and support setup in New Caledonia, following the reorganization of sovereignty forces. 

In September 2014, he was appointed Organic Deputy in Toulon of the Admiral commanding the Naval Action Forces. As such, he is in charge of the organic follow-up of all Navy units based in Toulon, and of all units and naval bases positioned in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.

On January 18th, 2017 he has been appointed as Deputy Operation Commander for EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia mission.

He is married to Véronique and the father of six.

He is Officer of the Legion of Honor, and Officer of the National Order of Merit.

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