NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian “Shape Waters” of Western and Central Mediterranean

Three NATO ships and a submarine, in cooperation with maritime patrol aircraft, E3 airborne early warning aircraft and numerous associated ships and submarines, conducted a focused security patrol in the central and western Mediterranean Sea February 14th to March 4th, 2018.

This security patrol focused on gathering pattern of life information and investigating further information gathered on previous focused security patrols to continue to develop Maritime Situational Awareness in the Mediterranean. In total, the ships monitored 1557 vessels that were operating or transiting the area, numerous ships were hailed and the group conducted friendly visits to 6 ships to gather information from local mariners.

Support and cooperation from maritime patrol aircraft and NATO’s E3 airborne early warning aircraft enabled the ships to maintain a multi-domain view of maritime activities. Submarines also provided information on suspicious vessels that was relayed to OSG ships for further investigation.

The coordination and information sharing with EU’s Operation Sophia further enhanced the efficiency and reach of this focused operation. Driven by daily situation reports, intentions and a shared information picture, OSG submarines were able to conduct coordinated hand-offs of vessels or situations for further investigation.

The focused patrol was led by the Commanding Officer of the Spanish frigate ESPS Navarra, Commander Francisco Javier Vázquez Sanz (ESP N), in company with the Italian frigate ITS Euro and the Belgian frigate Louise-Marie. The patrol was also supported by Spanish and Greek submarines and aircraft from Spain, Portugal, and Italy as well as NATO’s E3 airborne early warning aircraft.

In all, this joint focused security patrol brought together assets above, on and below the surface of the water to build a comprehensive understanding of maritime activities in the central and western Mediterranean Sea.

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