Successful completion of NATO mission Operation Allied Provider

Posted in NATO | 13-Dec-08 | Source: NATO

The merchant vessel As Salaam, carrying 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and escorted by the Italian Navy destroyer Durand de la Penne, arrives at Berbera, Somalia.

Mons, Belgium – NATO completes its mission to escort World Food Programme (WFP) chartered vessels delivering humanitarian aid today. NATO provided an escort on eight occasions which resulted in the safe delivery of 30,000 metric tonnes of humanitarian aid to Somalia.

The NATO ships involved in the eight-week mission were:

  • ITS Durand de la Penne (flagship, Italy)
  • HS Themistokles (Greece)
  • HMS Cumberland (United Kingdom)
  • TGS Gokova (Turkey)

Operation Allied Provider commenced in October after the North Atlantic Council (NAC) agreed to the UN Secretary General’s request for assistance. The NATO task force provided close protection to WFP chartered ships and conducted deterrence patrols in the area most susceptible to criminal acts against merchant shipping.

They were supported by various auxiliary units from several NATO nations. The commitment of over 1000 crewmembers is reflected in the 32,000 miles steamed. The assigned helicopters flew roughly 150 hours, mainly in the conduct of surveillance missions.

“The decision to run this mission has set a valuable precedent for our alliance,” said General John Craddock, Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “With little time to plan, NATO has completed a very successful mission. We have demonstrated that we can react, and quickly, in times of crisis. We need no better example of NATO’s value in our changing global security environment.”

In a recent update on piracy WFP said, “More than 2 million Somalis could go hungry without this protection.” Chartered WFP ships were a frequent target for ransom-seeking privateers but “since the naval escort system began in November 2007, no pirate attacks have been launched against ships loaded with WFP food despite 2008 being the worst year ever for piracy off the Somali coast.”

“NATO ships have demonstrated the Alliance’s resolve to counter piracy activities, effectively intervening during pirate attacks to shipping and preventing several hijackings. We are proud of the work we have accomplished,” said Rear Admiral Giovanni Gumiero, Commander, Standing NATO Maritime Group 2. “To the upcoming EUNAVFOR – mission Atalanta, I would like to offer my best wishes and future success in their mission,” he added.

NATO is currently coordinating its long-term strategy regarding its response to incidents of piracy and stands ready to consider further requests for the use of Alliance naval assets in this regard.