Danes support as Part of NATOs counter piracy Operation Ocean Shield
Danes support as Part of NATO's counter piracy Operation Ocean Shield
SEYCHELLES – Flying low over the waters near Somalia, Danish crews hunt for indicators of illegal activities across a wide stretch of ocean near the east African coast.
While pirate attacks have been few in the last couple of years, the conditions which lead to piracy are still present and, as such, interested nations must remain vigilant. The Danish detachment is participating in part of a NATO effort that has been on going since 2008 to deter and disrupt pirate attacks, while at the same time protecting vessels and helping increase the stability and security in the region.
A small team of about 20 Royal Danish Air Force officers and enlisted men operate a CL-604 Challenger aircraft out of an airport in the Seychelles. The aircraft is equipped to conduct maritime surveillance operations and is often used in Denmark to conduct surveillance of fishery zones off Greenland and watch for environmental pollution.
The crew flies along the coast of Somalia, verifying shipping activity, distinguishing legitimate maritime traffic from suspected pirate vessels and not least identifying probable pirate activities off the coastline of Somalia.
"NATO has this time been focusing on the coast of Somalia and so far no pirate activity has been identified" said Major Bjørn Møller, the detachment Commander. "Even though the crews are used to conduct similar operations in Denmark this is something else to be part of an alliance that together protect the shipping industry and not least protect the men and women working aboard the ships in the ocean off of Somalia."
As an Alliance member in NATO, the Danes bring this capability to support the international effort to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa. Since early on in Operation Ocean Shield, Denmark has contributed multiple naval vessels and surveillance aircraft to the NATO effort for different periods of time. Denmark's efforts are part of the larger collaborative response including NATO members and partners from all across the region. These efforts are commanded from the Allied Maritime Command Headquarters in Northwood, UK.
NATO Maritime Command maintains an active interest in all aspects of maritime security. In addition to active efforts in East Africa, NATO Maritime Command also operates the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) in the United Kingdom which provides generic advice on the piracy threat to ship owners as well as guidance on best-practices. The NSC is frequently contacted by Masters and shipping companies who sail throughout the region.