A major military force has announced it will be moving out of the country following the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

The European Council has confirmed that due to Brexit the European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) will transfer its operational headquarters in Northwood to Rota in Spain as of March 29, 2019.

In addition, the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) will move to Brest in France.

A statement published on the Forces Network website said: “The transition is being planned with the utmost consideration to ensure it is smooth and seamless with continued cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders throughout the region.”

The European Council has also appointed Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave from the Spanish Navy as the new Operation Commander taking over from Major General Charlie Stickland in March.

Maj Gen Strickland said: “I am already working closely with Vice Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave and it is my role to ensure that this operation remains a Common Security and Defence Policy exemplar and that my successor is set up for continued success.”

He added: “During this time Atalanta will be conducting business as usual with the force headquarters and ships remaining deployed and conducting deterrence of piracy and protection of World Food Programme shipping.”

EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta helps provide “deterrence, prevention and repression” of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast.

It also protects World Food Programme vessels and shipping boats in the same area, and supports other EU missions and programmes in the region.