Updated: 06-Feb-2003 February 2003

4 Feb. 2003


NATO to escort shipping
in Straits of Gibraltar

On 4 February NATO decided that Alliance naval forces will escort Allied commercial and civilian naval vessels travelling through the Straits of Gibraltar. The military authorities have now been ordered to plan the operation, to begin as soon as possible.

The North Atlantic Council, the Alliance’s highest decision-making body, decided to extend NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour to include escorting non-military ships travelling through the Straits to maintain security in the area and to secure the safe transit of designated Allied ships. The narrow Straits of Gibraltar are widely recognised as a potential site of terrorist attacks, and so the measure has been agreed as a precaution.

“These additional measure are meant to protect commercial and civilian shipping from possible new threats, such as terrorist attacks,” said NATO Spokesperson Yves Brodeur.

Operation Active Endeavour was initiated on 26 October 2001 to monitor shipping in the eastern Mediterranean as part of measures aimed at assisting the United States after the 11 September attacks. As such it is a valuable part of the worldwide campaign against terrorism, and is part of the NATO action that followed the declaration of Article 5 on September 12, 2001. Since the start of the operation more than 24,000 merchant vessels were monitored.

The escort operations will start after the Council approves the revised operational guidelines for Active Endeavour.

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