Nato-Russia Council

Counter Piracy Training at Sea

Russian Boarding Team During Counter Piracy Exercise Aboard ITS San Marco

The NATO flagship ITS SAN MARCO, in charge of Operation Ocean Shield, and the Russian Federation ship SEVEROMORSK trained together in counter-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden on 26 February.

The event was organised in the context of counter-piracy cooperation agreed by the NATO-Russia Council. It was planned as a result of recent meetings at sea between the two naval forces, and contributed to NATO-Russia interoperability in counter-piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden.

The training was conducted in two main phases; during the first phase, SAN MARCO played the part of a hijacked vessel with SEVEROMORSK taking the role of a counter piracy vessel which sent an assault team to free her. In the second phase, SEVEROMORSK played the role of a vessel suspected of being involved in illegal weapons trafficking and SAN MARCO was a naval vessel looking for evidence of illegal activity and sent a boarding team to inspect the vessel.

During the exercise such aspects as establishing communications and joint manoeuvring under single command were also practiced.

ITS San Marco and RS Severomorsk Manoeuvring at Sea

"This day will be a milestone in the cooperation between the Russian Federation and NATO and, I'm sure, its effects will not only be limited to counter-piracy activities but offers the prospect of other types of constructive engagement in future." said Rear Admiral Antonio Natale at the end of the exercise.

NATO-Russia Council Counter-Piracy Cooperation

NATO-Russia Council counter piracy dialogue began in 2008 when NATO and Russian ships were first deployed to the Horn of Africa. In the Joint review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges endorsed at the Council's Lisbon Summit in 2010, piracy was identified as one of the key common security challenges. In addition to political discussions and events aimed at sharing lessons-learned, in particular at the level of operation commanders, cooperation has been taking place at a tactical level. The ships’ commanders meet at sea to exchange situational awareness and discuss the areas where their ships will be operating. Discussions are underway exploring the potential for NATO and Russia to provide mutual support, including medical assistance and refueling, for ships engaged in counter piracy at sea. NATO-Russia Council nations are also seeking to improve communications between their ships off the Horn of Africa and are considering installing a NATO secure communications system aboard Russian ships deployed to the region. Cooperating against the threat of piracy to the thousands of ships passing the Horn of Africa is set to remain an important topic on the Council’s agenda.

Russian counter-piracy operatives apprehend the 'pirates' during the exercise.