NORTHWOOD, United Kingdom – NATO ships, provided by Turkey, Italy and Greece have concluded their focused security patrols in the eastern Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) for February 2017.
Operation Sea Guardian is a standing Maritime Security Operation in the international waters of the Mediterranean with three main 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 centres providing information about Maritime Situational Awareness. This baseline is augmented by focused security patrols that concentrate on specific areas of interest.
During the more than 600 hours of patrolling the eastern Mediterranean, the ships closely monitored the safe passage of more than more than 440 ships and contacted 30 ships for informal discussions on the daily activities occurring in the region. The efforts of the ships served to reassure the local and transiting mariners that the critical shipping routes in this portion of the Mediterranean Sea are safe and secure.
In addition to the ships, maritime patrol aircraft from Turkey provided 8 hours of reconnaissance coverage of the area in direct support to the mission to build what is called Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) which is shared across the Alliance and can be used to help identify possible security concerns such as weapons smuggling or terrorist activity while at the same time increasing cooperation, flexibility and strength through unified effort.
Though this focused security patrol is ending, the operation remains active. NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) leads the operation and maintains continuous Maritime Situational Awareness through information provided by national maritime operations centres, other naval information centres and through reports to MARCOM from ships under national control in what is called associated support to Operation Sea Guardian.
Associated support to Operation Sea Guardian means ships conducting their normal operations also provide information about activities in the shipping routes back to MARCOM to include in the larger MSA picture. The operation as a whole is about bringing information together to create a more comprehensive picture of patterns of life in the Mediterranean for the Allies and greater security in the Mediterranean Sea.
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 irregularities 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.
L. J. De Rothschild