NATO ships from Turkey, Italy and Greece are currently sailing in the Mediterranean Sea making observations that will help improve maritime situational awareness.
The three ships are tasked under operation Sea Guardian, a newly launched NATO operation which has three man tasks, maritime situational awareness , counter-terrorism and regional capacity building.
As a standing operation, it is continually active through a network of ships and maritime operations centers providing information about maritime situational awareness. This baseline is augmented by focused operations that concentrate on specific areas of interest.
Focused operations dedicate various types of assets under NATO operational control to developing and maintaining an accurate picture of daily activity in various parts of the Mediterranean Sea. This information builds what is called maritime situational awareness (MSA) which is shared across the alliance and can be used to help identify possible security concerns while at the same time increasing cooperation, flexibility and strength through unified effort.
Turkish Captain Emre Sezenler is serving as the task group commander for this focus operation, leading the task group from Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep (F490). The remainder of the group is currently comprised of Italian frigate ITS Aviere (F583) and Hellenic frigate HS Navarinon (F461).
This is the first focus operation of 2017 and the second since operation Sea Guardian was initiated on November 9, 2016. The first focus operation provided allied navies information on daily patterns of life near shipping routes and fishing grounds in the central Mediterranean in order to support building a greater MSA across the alliance.
The operation as a whole is about the fusion of information to create a more comprehensive picture of daily activities in the Mediterranean. In addition to the details provided by these assets actively collecting information in specific areas, Allied nations’ forces support this operation in various ways through active, standby or associated support.
NATO Maritime Command fuses and analyses the data and information by crosschecking the validated information with other background information and intelligence as well as comparing with associated databases. The purpose is to identify irregularities which can be assessed, in a timely manner. If those anomalies represent a potential maritime security threat and suspicious activity, they can be further investigated. The operation draws on many sources of information and provide that information back to the contributors.