NATO’s counter-piracy flagship Alvaro De Bazan tests crew readiness at sea
NATO’s counter-piracy flagship, the Alvaro De Bazan participated in an air defence training drill in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday (5 March 2014) meant to keep the ship’s crew ready for any challenge on the high seas, including their mission to deter Somali pirates.
The Commander of NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río, of the Spanish Navy explains to Spanish Television how his fleet of ships, which are currently in the Gulf of Aden doing counter piracy patrols, must be ready for any contingency.
The Spanish vessel also currently leads the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) which is one of the Alliance’s immediate response forces at sea. “As the Commander of SNMG2, I am responsible to ensure we are ready for any contingency and while we are currently assigned to NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, my force, if ordered, must be capable of responding to any crisis anywhere in the world within 48 hours,” said Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río.
The Alvaro de Bazan is a modern Aegis air defence frigate. French air force fighters from their base in Djibouti participated in the drill which tested the ability of the Alvaro De Bazan to track their movements and lock onto the jets during a simulated attack with its high tech radar and Aegis air defence system. To keep his forces ready for all contingencies the Admiral routinely puts his command ship through its paces, including drills of a high intensity combat nature, even while they are conducting anti-piracy patrols.
NATO ships have been working with vessels from the European Union, as well as other international navies and the commercial shipping industry to fight piracy off the Somali coast. Their actions have reduced the level of piracy from 147 attacks in 2011 to just 5 in 2013.