Nato-Russia Council

NATO and Russian Warships Hone Counter Piracy Skills

NATO-Russia Council Counter Piracy Training March 2013 01Photo courtesy of NATO Maritime Command

Over the weekend of 23rd and 24th March USS Nicholas, part of NATO’s counter piracy task force, and Russia’s RFS Severomorsk participated in a two day exercise at sea to strengthen ongoing NATO-Russia cooperation on counter piracy in the region.

USS Nicholas and RFS Severomorsk engaged in a series of joint training exercises aimed to improve tactics to deter, disrupt and protect against piracy. Training events included hailing and query exercises, each ship used its bridge-to-bridge radio to contact the other, asking the type of questions asked during counter-piracy operations to determine distress, and to gain knowledge about suspected pirate activity on civilian ships.

The second exercise allowed each ship’s boarding team to board the other ship, exchange information about boarding and search techniques, and practise dealing with scenarios that may be encountered in counter piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

NATO-Russia Council Counter Piracy Training March 2013 02Photo courtesy of NATO Maritime Command

Each ship then demonstrated its helicopter’s lift capability during a vertical replenishment exercise.  Each ships’ aircrew and pilots transported pallets to the other, simulating the transfers of stores. This was an important aspect of the training because going forward NATO-Russia Council nations are exploring the possibility of cooperating on replenishment and refuelling at sea on counter-piracy operations. As the sun set, both helicopters launched with photographers onboard, taking pictures of the two naval ships side by side.

The final joint training exercise took place on Sunday 24 March, when RFS Severomorsk deployed a target for each ship to sink, allowing both naval warships to demonstrate their fire power capabilities.

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.