EU naval operation Sophia ready to go after migrant smugglers on high seas of Mediterranean

The European Union has announced that it will be able to go after suspected migrant trafficking and smuggling vessels in the international waters of the Mediterranean as of next week.

Monday's EU statement said Operation Sophia will allow naval personnel of EU nations "to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law" as of Oct. 7.

Planning for the operation had been launched in June and EU member states now committed enough ships, helicopters and other military equipment to start the active phase of the counter-smuggling operation.

EU officials also agreed to rename the EUNAVFOR Med operation "Sophia" after a baby born on a rescue ship this summer off the Libyan coast.