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F124-frigate "Hessen" departing Wilhelmshaven on February 8, heading for Red Sea. Image Bundeswehr.

The Hessen, a German Navy frigate, set sail for the Red Sea in anticipation of the approval of an European Mission to defend cargo ships from attacks by the Houthis, the Associated Press reported on Feb. 8. EU foreign ministers are expected to sign off on the Red Sea mission on Feb. 19. Officials have said that seven countries in the bloc are ready to provide ships or planes. The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the EU mission—dubbed Aspides—won’t take part in any military strikes and will only operate at sea. The Hessen was commissioned into the German Navy in 2006 and is armed and equipped mainly for air defense.