NATO Senior Officials Discuss Challenges of Anti-Piracy Mission (Gulf of Aden)

NATO Senior Officials Discuss Challenges of Anti-Piracy Mission

A delegation of senior officials from the NATO headquarters International Staff and International Military Staff visited the flagship of Operation Ocean Shield in the Gulf of Aden earlier this week. On board the Dutch Frigate Evertsen, the delegation was shown a range of counter-piracy capabilities and had the opportunity to discuss the challenges of NATO’s anti-piracy mission.

“This led to mutual beneficial discussions in which the strategic and tactical level could reflect ideas and perceptions”, states the commander of the counter-piracy mission, Commodore Ben Bekkering. “What came clear is that the NATO task force packs a considerable qualitative punch, even in temporary periods of lower numbers.”

After the briefings, a full capacity pirate disruption demonstration was conducted by teams of the flagship including a fast-rope procedure, a small boat interception and an extraction by a so-called special patrol insertion & extraction rig. The demonstration was followed by a tour of the ship that focused on the capabilities that the frigate can bring to conduct counter-piracy operations. The Enhanced Boarding Element of the marines, the medical team, the flight team, the detainee handling team and the “maritime intermediate search team” that collects evidence after an interception, all showed their relevance in the chain of events that leads to effective disruptions of pirates. The task force Chief of Staff, Commander Hutchinson, explains: “We demonstrated that today’s maritime operations have a much wider scope than strictly naval. Maritime operations are truly joint, combined and inter-agency, as we work with specialists from all services, many nations, Foreign Affairs and Prosecution Offices.”

After an intensive 20 hour stay on board, the delegation returned ashore by Lynx helicopter to meet Djiboutian authorities. The frigate Evertsen rejoined the American warship USS Taylor on patrol in the Gulf of Aden.

The delegation consisted of the Assistant Secretary General Operations, Ambassador Stephan Evans (UK); the Director Operations of the International Maritime Staff, Major General Marcel Druart (FRA); and the Deputy Chief of Staff Operations from Northwood, Commodore Bruce Belliveau.

NATO is working alongside EUNAVFOR, Combined Maritime Forces and other nations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to eliminate acts of piracy. Good cooperation and coordination between all forces increases the effectiveness in keeping shipping lanes safe for legitimate maritime traffic.

Naval Today Staff, July 10, 2012; Image: NATO