The Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, General Knud Bartels, travelled to the Gulf of Aden on 28-30 October 2013 to visit the Ukrainian Navy frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy deployed there as part of Operation Ocean Shield, NATO’s counter-piracy mission.
“Ukraine’s ability to plug in and out of NATO’s operations show the high level of interoperability the Alliance can achieve with its partners,” General Bartels said.
The Ukrainian frigate joined Operation Ocean Shield on 10 October 2013, marking the first time a partner nation has contributed to the Alliance’s counter-piracy effort. The Ukrainian ship and its crew were supported by Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in the United Kingdom and individual Allies in preparation for the mission.
Commander MARCOM Vice Admiral Hudson, who accompanied General Bartels said: “As always, the operation drives the training requirements. And drawing upon the NATO organisation we were able to make the Ukrainian Frigate fully interoperable in order to participate in NATO’s maritime operations”.
Before joining Ocean Shield, the Ukrainian ship briefly provided support to Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s naval counter terrorism mission in the Mediterranean. As part of its contribution to Ocean Shield, Ukraine is also sending a liaison officer to Allied Maritime Command.
In a joint visit to the Ukrainian frigate with Colonel General Volodymyr Zamana, Chief of General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, General Bartels praised Ukraine for its dedicated interest to interoperability with NATO. He added that “by working together on the maritime side, NATO and Ukraine make a real contribution to dealing with today’s global security threats such as terrorism and piracy”.
Military cooperation between NATO and Ukraine has become well-established in a wide range of areas. In particular, Ukraine has made significant contributions to NATO-led operations in Afghanistan and the Balkans. Ukraine will also contribute personnel to Steadfast Jazz, the upcoming major NATO exercise which will take place in Poland and the Baltic region from 2-9 November.
On board the NATO flagship, the Norwegian frigate HNOMS Fridtjof Nansen, General Bartels spoke with Commodore Henning Amundsen, the Commander of Operation Ocean Shield. General Bartels stressed that NATO’s maritime mission in the Indian Ocean has significantly reduced the threat of piracy in the region and has had wider effects.
“It led to improved maritime situational awareness, better cooperation with partners such as Ukraine and Russia and it improved the military relations and cooperation with other naval forces such as China and Japan,” General Bartels said.
Since August 2009, NATO warships and aircraft have been patrolling the waters off the Horn of Africa as part of the international efforts to counter maritime piracy. Ocean Shield also includes the HDMS Esbern Snare of the Royal Danish Navy and the US Navy Frigate USS De Wert. All four ships are operating together off the Horn of Africa, deterring acts of piracy.
Press Release, November 1, 2013; Image: NATO ACO