NATO and Russia counter-piracy commanders meet at sea
Foreground to background: ITS San Marco and RFS Neustrashimiy meet in the Gulf of Aden.
A delegation from Russian Federation Navy ship Neustrashimiy visited NATO’s counter piracy flagship ITS San Marco in the Gulf of Aden. The visit took place as part of ongoing cooperation between NATO and Russian ships on counter piracy operations.
The meeting on 25 May between Rear Admiral Antonio Natale, NATO’s Counter-Piracy Task Group Commander and Captain First Rank Ivan Kovalyov, the Russian Task Group Commander, provided an opportunity for an exchange of views on their respective counter piracy activities in the area.
It is the third time in the last six months that NATO and the Russian Federation Navy have conducted counter piracy operation meetings at sea. In their last meeting on 23 and 24 March, the USS Nicholas, part of NATO’s counter piracy task force, and RFS Severomorsk, engaged in a series of joint training exercises aimed to improve tactics to deter, disrupt and protect against piracy.
The delegation from the Russian Federation Navy ship (RFS) NEUSTRASHIMIY paid a visit to ITS SAN MARCO, NATO’s counter piracy flagship
International cooperation against piracy in the Gulf of Aden is vital because of the vast area of sea where international shipping needs protection from the threat of attack by pirates. Exchanges between NATO and Russian ships provide each commander with a broader situational awareness by sharing notes on counter piracy activities, while training together on joint exercises helps improve interoperability.
“We are happy to continue to build upon our track record of cooperation with the Russian Navy,” said Rear Admiral Natale, reflecting on the meeting. "NATO members and Russia share important common interests and face common security challenges that can be best addressed jointly, including counter-piracy. Each of these meetings contribute to the improvement of interoperability between NATO and Russian units and thus to our ability to increase security in this part of the world.”
NATO-Russia Council Counter-Piracy Cooperation
Counter piracy dialogue through the NATO-Russia Council began in 2008 when NATO and Russian ships were first deployed to the Horn of Africa. Piracy was identified as one of the key common security challenges in the Joint review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges, which was endorsed at the Council's Lisbon Summit in 2010. Cooperation has been taking place at a tactical level, as well as through political discussions and events aimed at sharing lessons-learned, in particular at the operation commanders’ level. Naval ship 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 refuelling 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.
(Images courtesy of NATO Maritime Command)