The fleet have been conducting counter piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa, an area of strategic importance, since October 2008 and today it was the turn of the 5 warships from the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, who currently come from the UK (flagship), Greece, Italy, Turkey and USA to pick up the baton of this ongoing mission.
Speaking about the handover between the two NATO groups, which took place at Djibouti, NATO’s maritime commander, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar commented:
“The continuing presence of warships is essential if we are to combat the scourge of piracy. Piracy has the potential to affect us all given that 95% of the world’s trade goes by sea.”
Speaking from his flagship ‘Absalon’, the commander of NATO’s Maritime Group One, Commodore Rune (Royal Danish Navy) said:
“The last few months have been extremely busy for the NATO task force. We have, together with our maritime partners, actively disrupted and prevented attacks by armed pirate gangs on innocent vessels, who carry the goods and food into our countries. Whilst I am proud of what we have achieved, NATO remains ever vigilant.”
Embarked in HMS Chatham, the commander of NATO’s Maritime Group 2 is Commodore Steve Chick (Royal Navy). Commenting on his return to the area he said:
“My task group is well-trained, well-equipped and ready to tackle the job ahead”.
Last week, the NATO nations decided to extend Operation Ocean Shield until the end of 2012.