Spain assumed command on Wednesday of the European Union's "Operation Atalanta" against piracy in the Indian Ocean, the Defense Ministry said.

The ceremony marking the event took place in Djibouti on board the German frigate Bayern.

This is the third occasion on which Spain has taken command of the European naval force, or EUNAVFOR.

On board the Bayern, Spanish Capt. Jorge Manso Revilla assumed command of the operation, relieving German Rear Adm. Thomas Jugel.

Since its creation in 2008, EUNAVFOR has allowed the vessels of the World Food Program to enjoy security while distributing food to more than 1.2 million people every day, and security has also been provided for the ships that traverse the zone resulting in a significant reduction in hijackings by pirates operating out of Somalia.

At the height of the piracy, there were up to 32 vessels and 745 people being held hostage by the pirates compared with eight ships and 219 hostages at the moment.

The fight against piracy in Somalia is a collective task in which, along with EU units, the naval forces of NATO and nations including Russia, China, Japan and India are participating.