The sixth focused operation (FOCOPS 23-6) involved monitoring maritime traffic along major sea lines of communication, collecting data on patterns-of-life, and fostering cooperation with NATO partners Morocco and Algeria.
Embarked on board the Spanish frigate ESPS Santa Maria, a NATO staff led by Commander Francisco Garcia Flores (ESP N) spent 16 days at sea, visiting 7 vessels and investigating 1146 different ships. As part of the mission, the NATO Task Group made official visits to Tangier and Algiers, aiming to enhance cooperation in the maritime domain with the Royal Moroccan Navy and the Algerian Navy.
Remaining vigilant and sharing information with Allied and Partners in international waters of the Mediterranean and off the Strait of Gibraltar is vital for maritime security. The activities conducted by the flagship ESPS Santa Maria, together with NATO Partners Morocco and Algeria, contributed to strengthening cooperation, interoperability, and maritime security in the region
MEDITERRANEAN SEA – NATO's Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) Task Group recently completed its sixth focused maritime patrol of the year in the Western Mediterranean Sea and off the Strait of Gibraltar.
Commander Flores engaged in an intensive program, including courtesy calls with military authorities in Tangier and Algiers. These visits provided an opportunity for the military authorities along with diplomatic representatives in Tangier and Algiers to tour the flagship and receive briefings on Operation Sea Guardian, its mission, objectives, and other subjects of mutual interest.
Commander Flores emphasized the significance of Operation Sea Guardian in the fight against terrorism, stating "Remaining vigilant and sharing information with Allied and Partners in international waters of the Mediterranean and off the Strait of Gibraltar is vital for maritime security." He further noted that “the activities conducted by the flagship ESPS Santa Maria, together with NATO Partners Morocco and Algeria, contributed to strengthening cooperation, interoperability, and maritime security in the region”.
During these patrols, the flagship was supported by submarines and maritime patrol aircraft from Portugal and Spain. OSG Task Group executed passing exercises (PASSEX) with the Royal Moroccan SIGMA 9813 class frigate Sultan Moulay Ismail (614) and the Algerian vessel "701" El Mounjid.
These exercises covered various warfare areas, including tactical communication and advanced manoeuvering, furthering cooperation between navies and enhancing coordination and interoperability. The engagements with NATO Partners Morocco and Algeria underscored the importance of these vital operations in strengthening maritime security in the Mediterranean.
Ships, submarines and aircraft of 8 NATO nations directly supported the Operation Sea Guardian throughout the year 2023 with a total of 379 sailing days and 86 air sorties flown. The impressive result of 5495 investigated ships, 1224 ship interrogations and 23 friendly visits highlight the importance the alliance gives to maritime situational awareness and counter-terrorism in the Mediterranean Sea. Additionally, 5 Port visits and Passing Exercises with NATO Partner Nations in the area underline the enduring commitment to work with partner nations towards the common goal of a free and secure sea.
Operation Sea Guardian is a collaborative, year-round maritime security operation designed to maintain maritime situational awareness, deter and counter-terrorism activities, and build capacity and interoperability among NATO Allies and partners. In addition to daily maritime situational awareness activities, OSG conducts focused patrols in specific areas of interest in the Mediterranean Sea.