|Updated: 11-Aug-2003||August 2003|
of expanded NATO naval operations
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
“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.