Today, NATO begins a new standing maritime security operation in the Mediterranean Sea named Operation Sea Guardian.
Three NATO ships and two submarines – the Italian frigate ITS Aviere, the Bulgarian frigate BGS Verni, the Turkish frigate TCG Gemlik, the Greek submarine HS Papanikolis and the Spanish submarine ESPS Mistral – will conduct the first patrols in the central Mediterranean under NATO standing Operation Sea Guardian.
Air support to Operation Sea Guardian will include rotational patrols by Maritime Patrol Aircrafts (MPAs) from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey. 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.
Operation Sea Guardian has three core missions: maritime situational awareness, counter-terrorism and capacity building. 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.
Operation Sea Guardian will help maintain an accurate picture of daily activity in the Mediterranean to help identify possible security concerns. Ships, submarines and aircraft assigned to NATO Operation Sea Guardian will contribute information to maintain a comprehensive picture of the operating area. Operation Sea Guardian establishes NATO Maritime Command in Northwood, UK as the hub of maritime security information sharing for the Alliance.
At the Warsaw Summit in July, NATO announced the transformation of Article 5 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.
Operation Active Endeavour was NATO’s only Article 5 operation on anti-terrorism, initiated as support to the United States immediately after September 11, 2001. Since then, the Operation has helped to protect one of the busiest trade routes in the world. NATO ships have kept sea lanes open, they deterred terrorist activity. NATO vessels hailed ships more than 128,000 times and boarded more than 170 vessels.
NATO Operation Active Endeavour has played a crucial part in providing security in Mediterranean and enabled NATO to build strong relations with partner countries in the region.