A sailor working out of the Allied Maritime Command NATO Shipping Center talk with Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) personnel in the field to pass information to civilian mariners during Multinational Exercise 17.
NORTHWOOD, United Kingdom - NATO ships provided by Italy, Greece and Turkey, supported by Allied Maritime Patrol Aircraft, are conducting focused security patrols in international waters of the central and eastern Mediterranean Sea as part of Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) 27 November-13 December 2017. This particular focused security patrol is being conducted in coordination with a Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS) exercise, named Multinational Exercise 17 (MNEX17) and led by NATO Shipping Centre, which is part of Allied Maritime Command.
MNEX 17 involves testing and evaluating procedures regarding information sharing between the merchant shipping community and NATO. In order to conduct the exercise 71 individuals, dispersed across Europe at multiple locations ashore and on board OSG ships at sea, worked to inform civilian mariners about Operation Sea Guardian. Participants included representatives from Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
While NATO Shipping Centre (NCS) at Northwood is leading the exercise, deployable NCAGS Elements in Athens, Marmaris, Taranto, Toulon and Valencia are visiting merchant ships at their respective ports to brief merchant ship masters and other maritime stakeholders. Liaison Officers on board OSG ships are supporting the information flow between NATO Shipping Centre, military ships and merchant vessels. Another team located in Northwood monitors all events and identifies lessons learned to further improve NCAGS procedures as well NSC support to OSG.
Through the use of NCAGS specialists from different NATO countries for the real life Operation Sea Guardian, it was possible to provide significant support and contribution to the implementation of this operation. Lt. Otto Duindam of the Royal Netherlands Naval Reserve, deployed as Deputy Staff Officer NCAGS, "The ABNL (Admiralty Belgium and Netherlands) input consisted of a number of NCAGS specialists in the NATO headquarters in and NCAGS staff in Athens, Marmaris, Toulon, Taranto and Valencia where they informed face to face, among others, shipping companies, shipping authorities and merchant captains about Operation Sea Guardian and asked for their cooperation. This cooperation consists of the regular reporting of the ship's position and the reporting of observations of suspicious acts at sea.’’
All in all, MNEX17 and NCAGS organisation enhanced the visibility of Operation Sea Guardian through interpersonal contact in multiple Mediterranean ports and took a fresh look at possible improvements in the internal processes at the NATO Shipping Centre.
The exercise will conclude on December 12th with the end of this iteration of the OSG focused security patrol.
OSG focuses on three core missions: maritime situational awareness, counter-terrorism and regional capacity building. While OSG is designed to conduct a variety of maritime security tasks, forces assigned to focused security patrols like this one support the maritime situational awareness picture maintained at NATO Allied Maritime Command.