In 2013 the EU approved a small anti-piracy mission, CRIMGO (Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea). Such missions reveal the EU’s willingness and capability to secure ocean trade routes. However, this mission is different from EUNAVFOR. A core aim is to improve local state capacity to police their own maritime zones, rather than projecting European naval power. This paper asks what were the motivations and origins behind this mission? Moreover, how should we interpret such activities by the EU? Are they evidence of merely a few interested EU states leading the way on ‘soft’ marine security co-operation of low salience? Or, alternatively, do missions such as CRIMGO reveal the EU as an emerging strategic maritime power? This question feeds into a wider debate concerning the EU's Maritime Security Strategy published in June 2014.