NATO kicks off new operation Sea Guardian

Three NATO ships and two submarines began a new NATO maritime security operation in the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday.

Italian frigate ITS Aviere, Bulgarian frigate BGS Verni, Turkish frigate TCG Gemlik, Greek submarine HS Papanikolis and the Spanish submarine ESPS Mistral – will conduct the first patrols in the central Mediterranean under the new operation named Sea Guardian.

Air support to operation Sea Guardian will include rotational patrols by maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs) from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

According to NATO, these first patrols will run through the 17th Nov 2016, with other patrols on the forge and to occur according with approved schedule of operations.

At the Warsaw Summit in July, NATO announced the transformation of operation Active Endeavour into this new operation in response to the evolving security environment. Operation Sea Guardian has a broader scope adapted to a wider range of maritime security threats.

The operation has three core missions: maritime situational awareness, counter-terrorism and capacity building. NATO said additional tasks could be added if decided by the allies, including upholding freedom of navigation, conducting interdiction tasks, countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and protection of critical infrastructure.