Updated: 11-Aug-2003 August 2003

6 Aug 2003


Six months of expanded NATO naval operations
in Mediterranean


Operation Active Endeavour

04/02/2003 - NATO
NATO to escort shipping in Straits of Gibraltar
05/03/2003 - NATO
NATO escorts shipping in Gibraltar
06/08/2003 - AFSOUTH
NATO's contribution to maritime security, speech by Admiral Sanfelice
For six months now NATO naval forces have been tasked with escorting Allied civilian shipping through the Straits of Gibraltar, resulting in a reduction of insurance rates and enhancing security in this strategic waterway.

The escorts are part of Operation Active Endeavour, NATO’s ongoing patrol and surveillance activities in the Mediterranean.

More than 80% of goods are transferred by sea,” said Vice Admiral Ferdinando Sanfelice di Monteforte, commander of the operation, “therefore the sea … was naturally the arena where NATO nations were most vulnerable.

In February 2003, NATO decided to expand these operations to include escorting Allied commercial and civilian naval vessels travelling through the Straits of Gibraltar. The first escorts began in March.

Cutting off the flow of arms and drugs

The narrow Straits of Gibraltar are widely recognised as a potential site of terrorist attacks, and so the additional measures have been agreed as a precaution. They have already resulted in a substantial decrease in insurance rates for commercial shipping.

Active Endeavour was first launched on 26 October 2001 to monitor shipping in the eastern Mediterranean as part of measures aimed at assisting the United States in the campaign against terrorism

Since the start of the operation over 30,000 merchant vessels have been monitored.
This has had a direct impact on the trafficking of arms and drugs and an estimated 50% decrease in illegal immigration into Europe.

The easiest way to escape attention is to stay in the middle of a large crowd. Terrorists are shuttled more safely to western countries amidst 100-200 illegal immigrants than separately through other arrangement,” adds Admiral Sanfelice.

More information on NATO’s contribution to maritime security is available online in a recent speech published by Admiral Sanfelice.