Wednesday, March 18, 2009

NATO to Resume Counter-Piracy Operations

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2009 -- The following is the text of a NATO statement released March 13 regarding NATO counter piracy operations:
NATO will resume counter piracy operations off the Horn of Africa later this month after the North Atlantic Council (NAC) gave final approval for the mission. Operation ALLIED PROTECTOR is NATO’s continuing contribution to international community efforts to enhance the safety of commercial maritime routes and international navigation in the area.

Five NATO ships will assist in international efforts to deter, defend against, and disrupt pirate activities off the Horn of Africa. The ships, part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) under the command of Portuguese Rear Admiral Jose Pereira da Cunha, will start their duties at the end of March. The five ships expected to participate are:
  • NRP Corte Real (flagship, Portugal)
  • HMCS Winnipeg (Canada)
  • HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (Netherlands)
  • SPS Blas de Lezo (Spain)
  • USS Halyburton (United States of America)

“In this era of globalization, economic security is inextricably linked to physical security,” said General John Craddock, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “This operation demonstrates the continuing importance of the NATO Alliance in addressing our collective security concerns.”

The first phase of counter piracy operations will be undertaken on the outbound leg of NATO’s first ever maritime deployment to SE Asia. The second phase will take place as SNMG1 makes the return journey towards European waters at the end of June.

The deployment to SE Asia demonstrates the high value that NATO places on its relationship with other partners across the globe. It will include a visit to Karachi, Pakistan, before sailing on to Singapore to take part in the IMDEX 2009 Exhibition and Conference at the invitation of the Republic of Singapore Navy. From Singapore SNMG1 will sail to Perth, Australia.

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope KCB OBE, Commander Maritime Component Command Northwood which will oversee Operation ALLIED PROTECTOR, said, “This mission reflects NATO’s relevance and adaptability to meet the challenges of the current security environment. In conjunction with other nations and international organisations we aim to enhance the safety of commercial maritime routes vital for the global economy.”

The counter piracy mission will be co-ordinated with other international actors and expands on what was achieved during Operation Allied Provider in 2008. The NATO Force will assume a highly visible profile, conducting surveillance tasks and providing protection to deter and suppress piracy and armed robbery.

“I recognize that nations face difficult choices in resourcing decisions,” said Craddock. “The ability to reconfigure the original deployment to encompass this additional role is a testament to Alliance cooperation and the adaptability of the forces provided to NATO.”
(Report from a NATO news release.)

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