Ocean Shield is now shut down. For a number of years the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) stepped up its maritime capability by running a naval task force some distance from the European continent. Piracy was a huge problem for many years – especially off the coast of Somali where pirates would attack defenseless ships at will. The pirates would take hostages and seize large cargo ships holding the crew and ships for ransom. After a while the maritime nations of the world took notice and actually did something about the piracy problem. NATO provided a naval task force that assisted in the protection of the sea lanes of the Western Indian Ocean.
NATO’s counter piracy mission helped to deter and disrupt pirate attacks while protecting vessels and increasing the level of security in the region since 2008. The area of operation – depicted by the map above – was far encompassing – and entailed much more than the coast of Somalia. However, it is off the coast of Somalia where most of the piracy threat existed. The area was over 2 million square miles of ocean – about the size of Europe.
Ocean Shield, in conjunction with other counter-piracy efforts is seen as a big success. There have been no successful piracy attacks in the area since May 2012. Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia declined from 236 in 2011 to two reportedly unsuccessful attacks in 2014.
NATO’s maritime forces will now focus on Russia naval activities in the Black Sea and along the coast of the Scandinavian and Baltic nations. In addition, the maritime duties of NATO vessels will see an increase due to the problems associated with illegal migrating from the Middle East and North Africa.
“Ocean Shield Achieved its Mission”, The Maritime Executive, January 2, 2017.
Operation OCEAN SHIELD, NATO.
NATO Shipping Centre, NATO
Operation OCEAN SHIELD, by WikipediA
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