NATO ships fine tune cooperation with operation Sophia in the Med

Illustration. Photo: NATO MARCOM

NATO ships deployed to operation Sea Guardian spent the larger part of August working with ships from the European Union-led operation Sophia with the aim of improving collaboration in the Mediterranean Sea.

The ships worked in the central Mediterranean Sea August 3 through 20 in part to further refine coordination efforts and further integrate information provided by ships in associated support to the mission.

Operating in international waters off the coast of Libya, ITS Euro served as the flagship for this focused operation with a Greek submarine and maritime patrol assets from various allied nations providing direct support at various times to the operation.

With the EU’s operation Sophia units sometimes operating in the same area, NATO and the EU have agreed to coordinate and cooperate on information sharing and logistics. This focused operation shared daily situation reports and intentions as well as schedules for air, surface and submarine operations. Sharing this information prevented duplication in tasks and helped build a bigger picture of maritime activities in the central Mediterranean.

ITS Euro also worked closely with ships in associated support to Operation Sea Guardian, meaning they are not tasked specifically to provide direct support to OSG, but do provide information to the operation in the course of their other duties. HMS Duncan, the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) flagship is a good example of this, they were also operating in the central Mediterranean on an independent maritime situational awareness patrol while simultaneously providing information to ITS Euro about what they observed, broadening the flagship’s picture.

So far this year NATO has performed focused operations in the Central Mediterranean twice, and in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean once each. The focused security patrol concentrated on gathering pattern-of-life information about maritime activities in the international waters of the central Mediterranean Sea and was an opportunity to practice information sharing on a real-time basis at sea to ensure successful coordination with the EU and with assets in associated support to the operation, all in support of the Operation’s Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) task.

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