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Operation Ocean Shield Ocean Shield Logo Click here high resolution logoCurrent News


2010 Ocean Shield Archive News Articles


2009 Ocean Shield Archive News Articles




Operation Ocean Shield, NATO’s contribution to international efforts to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa, commenced 17 August 2009 after the North Atlantic Council (NAC) approved the mission. Operation Ocean Shield builds on the experience gained during Operation Allied Protector, NATOs’ previous counter-piracy mission, and develops a distinctive NATO role based on the broad strength of the Alliance by adopting a more comprehensive approach to counter-piracy efforts.
While at-sea counter-piracy operations will continue to be the focus, a new element of regional-state counter-piracy capacity building has been developed for Operation Ocean Shield. NATO’s capacity building effort will aim to assist regional states, upon their request, in developing their own ability to combat piracy activities. This element of the operation is designed to complement the efforts of existing international organisations and forces operating in the area and will contribute to a lasting maritime security solution off the Horn of Africa

13 Nov 12

HQ MARCOM Deputy Commander visits Djibouti to meet with key regional leaders and escorts representatives from NATO parliamentary assembly.

Earlier this month, NATO Maritime Command’s deputy commander, Vice Admiral Christian Canova, accompanied a group of representatives from the NATO Parliamentary Assembly during its visit to Djibouti. The aim of this visit was to examine the contribution that armed forces and military facilities stationed in Djibouti can make to support the implementation of NATO’s new strategic concept, focusing on its counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield (OOS).

This visit was indeed an opportunity to show members of parliament from NATO countries how key counter piracy contributors coordinate their action locally to make the Indian Ocean a safer place.

The fifteen members of NATO country parliaments were welcomed by General FRAF William Kurtz, Commandant of French Forces in Djibouti. They were kindly hosted onboard a NATO OOS Danish warship HDNMS IVER HUITFELD. Then, the NATO Parliamentary delegation had some talks with the Djiboutian Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Youssouf and their counterparts at the Djiboutian National Assembly. This was suitable an opportunity to discuss matters of regional security, the political situation in Somalia, but also Djibouti’s unique and strategic location.

VAdm Canova also met with the Djiboutian Chief of the Navy, Colonel Abdurrahman Aden Cher who wished to share his positive appraisal of stability progresses made in the Horn of Africa, mentioning AMISOM successes with deployment of Djibouti’s battalion to Somalia.

The NATO parliamentary delegation then proceeded to visit the Japan Self-Defence Forces’ maritime air detachment and base in Djibouti airport. The NATO MPs were given a briefing on Japan’s involvement in counter piracy by Capt. Moriwaki, commanding officer of the Japanese Deployment Air-force for Counter Piracy Enforcement (DAPE).

Reflecting on his visit, VAdm Canova declared: “I am satisfied the way multinational counter piracy forces are containing piracy this year. We eventually should get some pay back of our past four year effort but pirates are waiting ashore better opportunities. Fortunately, the process of regional capability building is ongoing in Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles, Yemen and soon in Tanzania with the EU civilian capacity building operation (EUCAP NESTOR), NATO’s regional maritime capacity building (RMCB) and national initiatives. I am confident with the capabilities regional navies and coast guards have developed in recent years. Their participation in exercises such as “Cutlass Express” not only shows that they  are taking an active step in securing their own waters, but that they are also committed to play a more active role in the overall regional security”.

6 Nov 12

NATO Flagship Participates in Regional Counter Piracy Exercise

Tanzanian trainees on board a RHIB from HNLMS Rotterdam in Port Dar es Salaam
This week the NATO flagship, HNLMS Rotterdam has been participating in Exercise Cutlass Express which allows regional, Indian Ocean navies to develop their counter piracy procedures.
This US-led exercise is an annual event.The exercise began with a series of roleplay situations allowing teams from the Tanzanian and Mozambican navies to train and develop their boarding techniques and skills. They work alongside sailors and marines from the US and the Netherlands exchanging information, discussing experiences and learning through on the job training.
News Release


24 Oct 12

Pirates Fire on NATO Ship
Dhow on fire
This morning while conducting routine surveillance off the Somali coast, HNMLS ROTTERDAM the flagship for the NATO ‘OCEAN SHIELD’ counter piracy mission, came under sustained fire from groups of suspected pirates.A boarding team from Rotterdam was making an approach on a suspect dhow near the coast when they came under fire from ashore and from the dhow itself.   Rotterdam returned fire in accordance with Rules of Engagement, during which the dhow was seen to ignite and crew members were observed leaping into the water.  One crew member of the dhow was killed in this action and 25 people were subsequently rescued from the water by Rotterdam.   Commodore Ben Bekkering, the commander of the NATO Task Force, said that the Rotterdam and her boats remained under sustained fire from the shore throughout, even while attempting to rescue the crew of the stricken dhow and one of Rotterdam’s rigid inflatable boats was damaged. News Release

12 October 2012

Operation Ocean Shield Hosts Royal Visitor

Operation Ocean Shield, NATO’s counter piracy mission welcomed the Crown Prince of the Netherlands, his Royal Highness Prince Willem-Alexander earlier this week. He spent two days onboard HNLMS Rotterdam, NATO’s counter piracy flagship where he met staff and crew and where he was updated on the current piracy effort. He was accompanied by the Netherland Chief of Defense, General Tom Middendorp, and the Chief of the Military Household, Major General Henk Morsink.

During his stay, the Prince not only met with and talked to many of the crew, he also participated in a number of activities. The crew demonstrated the use of their military means and explained the manner in which piracy is handled. Most of all, he acquired firsthand experience of counter piracy operations from Rotterdam’s crew. In addition, he had the opportunity to talk to the international task force staffs that are embarked on the flagship. They come from seven different nations and are a very practical example of the co-operation and co-ordination which exists within NATO.

The visitors were impressed by Rotterdam’s capabilities and the achievements of the crew in counter piracy to date. “This mission is essential for a trading nation like the Netherlands” said the Dutch Crown Prince.

The Task Force is NATO’s contribution to the international counter piracy effort and is led by Dutch Commodore Ben Bekkering. In order to create a lasting solution in the first against piracy, the mission is also aimed at building regional maritime capacity.

The Task Force currently consist of ships from the Netherland and the United States and a patrol aircraft from Denmark. In the next months, more ships from other NATO nations will join this task force adding to its capability.  


20 Sep 12
NATO Commander Reflects on 100 Days in Counter Piracy

Cdre Ben Bekkering
On 6th June, Commodore Ben Bekkering took over as Commander of NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield. Today, with ships patrolling the shipping corridor in the Gulf of Aden and present in front of the Somali coast, the Task Force remains ready to prevent successful pirate attacks. Since then two merchant ships have been attacked by pirates however neither were successful. This represents a significant decline compared to previous periods. More importantly, no merchant ships have been hijacked by pirates since May. This does not mean that the pirates don’t try. On two occasions over the Summer, they managed to hijack a dhow which could have been used as a mothership from which to launch attacks. On both occasions the pirates were disrupted by the NATO warships, HNLMS Evertsen and HNLMS Rotterdam but they still hold seven ships and 177 crewmembers hostage.   News Release


28 Aug 12

Counter Piracy “Big Three” Meet At Sea

from left to right: RAdm Anho Chung (CMF), RADM Enrico Credendino (EUNAVFOR) and Cdre Ben Bekkering (NATO) On 24 August the Force Commanders of the three international Counter-Piracy task forces, NATO Operation Ocean Shield, the EU Naval Force, Operation Atalanta and Combined Maritime Force (CMF)met on board the EU NAVFOR flagship to exchange experiences and coordinate the fight against piracy. The flagships, ITS San Giusto (EU NAVFOR), HNLMS Rotterdam (NATO) and the ROKS Wang Geon (CMF) met in the Gulf of Aden to allow the three Force Commanders to meet face to face. NATO Commander Commodore Ben Bekkering and CMF Commander Rear Admiral Anho Chung  were welcomed by EU NAVFOR Force Commander Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino aboard the San Giusto. The three Counter Piracy forces communicate and coordinate their actions on a daily basis in order to enhance their capability end effectiveness in deterring, disrupting and counteracting piracy in the area of operation. Although modern means of communications allow reliable long distance exchanges of information and a continuous flow of communications, face to face meetings are still very important. Therefore, cross-deck meetings are organised regularly in addition to electronic forms of communication.


22 Aug 12

USS Taylor Leaves Ocean Shield to Head Home

After more than 5 intensive and rewarding months of patrolling in the waters off the Horn of Africa, the NATO counter piracy task force said farewell to USS Taylor . “When Operating in the Gulf of Aden, USS Taylor has made an excellent contribution. She was completely dedicated to the counter piracy mission. Nearing her 30th year in commission it is impressive to see a ship achieving a continuous high readiness state, eager to take any task given. The waters off Somalia offer a challenging environment. Heat, sandstorms, few logistic stops, constant vigilance. Taylor met the challenge and more”, states Commodore Ben Bekkering. As part of the multinational maritime force, the USS Taylor was deployed as part of the NATO task force from 7 May until 19 August in the waters surrounding the Horn of Africa. USS Taylor will now begin her transit home. She is expected back in her homeport, Mayport in mid September after a  7 month deployment.

20 Aug 12

NATO and China Meet in Gulf of Aden

Rear Admiral Zhou Xuming presents a shield to Cdre Ben BekkeringYesterday, NATO and China met in the Gulf of Aden, where Commodore Ben Bekkering welcomed his Chinese counterpart, Rear Admiral Zhou Xuming onboard NATO’s counter piracy flagship, HNLMS Rotterdam.“International cooperation is the key to success”, explains Bekkering. “With so many navies - NATO, EUNAVFOR, CMF and individual nations, unity by coordination is vital. This meeting, between two of the major contributors of the counter piracy
effort is just one of the coordination tools. An important tool though, where we were able to truly exchange views and thoughts.”       News Release


14 Aug 12

NATO Warship HNLMS Rotterdam frees hijacked dhow
The disrupted dhow with landing craft from HNLMS Rotterdam
In the early morning of the 13th of August, the boarding team of HNLMS Rotterdam disrupted a suspected pirate group before they could launch an attack on a merchant ship. The decisive action was the result of a daylong operation of ships and patrol aircraft from NATO and EUNAVFOR. The search for the suspected pirates started five days ago, when Bossaaso port authorities reported a possible hijacking of a dhow. Two days later, the EU Naval Force unit Lafayette located the dhow. A visit showed that the suspected pirates had transferred to another vessel, the Bourhan Nour. That dhow was located another day later by another EU Naval Force unit, FGS Sachsen. News Release

20 Jul 12

NATO and Omani Navy Help Dhow

Dhow with rhib from HNLMS Evertsen alongsideYesterday, HNLMS Evertsen and USS Taylor from the NATO Task Force joined with the Royal Omani Navy Vessel, Al Mabrukah in locating and assisting the Iranian dhow, Al Mahdi, drifting in the Arabian Sea. According to the crew, the show had been hijacked by pirates earlier this month and was abandoned when she ran out of fuel and supplies. The search was preceded by coordination between NATO, the Omani Naval Headquarters and the Iranian Rescue Coordination Center, after the latter had received a distress call. Earlier yesterday morning, Al Mabrukah located the dhow. Deteriorating sea conditions limited the assistance options an after an attempt to tow by Al Mabrukah failed, Evertsen sent her rhib with fuel and food. Press Release

20 Jul 12

Counter Piracy Commanders Meet in Gulf of Aden

Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Dupuis (EUNAVFOR); Cdre Ben Bekkering (NATO); Rear Admiral Anho Chung (CMF)On Wednesday 18th July, the commander of the NATO Task Force, Commodore Ben Bekkering, hosted his counterparts, EUNAVFOR Rear Admiral Jean-Baptiste Dupuis and Combined Maritime
Force (CMF) Rear Admiral Anho Chung on board of his flagship HNLMS Evertsen. While the meeting was used to conduct replenishment of supplies at sea, it demonstrated a very practical example of the level of cooperation that exists between the task forces. The real purpose, though, was for the three Commanders to exchange ideas and share thoughts on counter piracy. With the monsoon now at full strength, the pirates are more limited in their options. However, once the monsoon subsides it is more than likely that the pirates will again attempt to launch attacks on merchant ships.   Press Release




3 Jul 12

Freed seafarers sail home

Dhow with HNLMS Evertsen in backgroundTwo days after HNLMS Evertsen released a hijacked dhow, the small ship sailed home. The crew of the dhow said goodbye to the flagship of the NATO counter-piracy Operation Ocean Shield. “Of course we are here because of the importance of the sea lanes
of communications and their relevance to global economy”, states NATO’s counter-piracy commander, Commodore Ben Bekkering. “But the smile on the faces of the sailors of the dhow paints at least as strong a picture as container vessels arriving in Rotterdam”.
After a two day hunt in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, NATO’s flagship HNLMS Evertsen,
boarded a pirated dhow in the early morning of 29th July and released seven hijacked Indian and Bangladeshi crewmembers. After the action the dhow crew stayed on board of the Dutch warship, to recuperate from the ordeal. Meanwhile the sailors of Evertsen took care of the dhow. While both ships sailed towards the homeport of the dhow, the NATO staff stayed in touch with the Omani navy. On Sunday morning Evertsen and the Omani naval ship Al Muazzar met at sea and escorted by the Omani navy ship the dhow and its crew sailed home. Commanding officer of the Evertsen, Commander Boudewijn Boots said “The relief and joy of the crew, after the tormenting insecurity about their fate, touched me. That’s why we are here.”

29 Jun 12

HNLMS Evertsen disrupts pirate action group

HNLMS Evertsen in background with dhow in the foreground
After a two day hunt in the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea, NATO’s flagship HNLMS Evertsen boarded a pirated dhow early this morning and released seven hijacked Indian and Bangladeshi crew members. The Omani flagged dhow Nebarkad had been hijacked on 20th June off the coast of Oman, and was used by the pirates to attack merchant vessels in the Arabian Sea. The two day operation was the conclusion of a longer period in which a group of suspected pirates used dhows to conduct attacks on merchant vessels throughout the Arabian Sea. On 27th June an alarm call came in from the MV Namrun a Maltese flagged bulk carrier. The captain stated that an unknown dhow had attempted to attack it and shots were fired.  News Release

21 Jun 12

NATO warship escorts WFP ship

MV Tupi MaidenEarlier this week, USS Taylor, part of the NATO counter piracy mission Operation Ocean Shield escorted the World Food Programme (WFP) ship, MV Tupi Maiden. The WFP ship was making a westbound transit to Djibouti through the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden. MV Tupi Maiden began her transit escorted by the French warship, FS Guepratte from the EU’s Operation Atalanta. USS Taylor took over the escort from a pre-planned point in the IRTC and continued westward to Djibouti. During the transit, Taylor maintained a position close to the WFP vessel to deter piracy and respond rapidly if MV Tupi Maiden was attacked or if suspicious vessels were reported to be operating too close to the vessel.    News Release



19 Jun 12

NATO Commander and Russian Counterpart Exchange Counter-Piracy Views in Gulf of Aden

From left to right: Cdr Hutchinson (NATO Task Force Chief of Staff), Capt. First Rank Kondratov, Cdre Bekkering (NATO Task Force Commander), Capt. Lieutenant Stavenov, Cdr Boots (CO HNLMS Evertsen)The Commander of the Russian counter-piracy mission, Captain First Rank Vladimir A. Kondratov, visited NATO’s counter-piracy flagship HNLMS Evertsen today. The aim of the visit was to share
experiences of counter-piracy efforts and seek opportunities to improve the level of cooperation and coordination.After being welcomed by the Task Force Commander, Commodore Ben Bekkering, the Russian delegation was briefed about NATO’s counter-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield. Captain Kondratov, in turn, provided an overview of the Russian counter-piracy efforts and current convoy procedures. Considerable time was spent sharing views and information about the current situation around the Horn of Africa, including the most recent hijacking attempts and the use of private security teams. Both commanders agreed that there was scope to expand the exchange of information and that they would seek ways to achieve that. In addition, they agreed to investigate possibilities for counter-piracy related exercises. News Release


18 Jun 12

HNLMS Evertsen assists dhow in distress

Stricken dhow with RHIB from HNLMS Evertsen alongsideOn Friday 15th June, the NATO flagship HNLMS Evertsen responded to a distress call from the dhow M/V Al Hijrad. The cargo trawler, with 17 crew members on board was on its way to the United Arab Emirates but was dead in the water in the Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa, where the northwest monsoon causes strong winds and high seas. Al Hijrad’s captain reported that the cargo ship had been at sea for several days, when they were struck by a major engine failure.

Upon arriving on the scene, Evertsen launched a Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) to provide assistance. But due to the high sea state caused by the monsoon, it was not possible to climb safely on board. So the helicopter hoisted the technical crew and kit on board of the dhow. Having assessed the situation, the technical crew concluded that the engine was too badly damaged to repair at sea. So HNLMS Evertsen towed the dhow to the safety of Boosasso port and was thanked by the dhow’s captain as their ways parted.

“The sea can be an unforgiving place, when your vessel is adrift and without power,
especially when you are in the hunting grounds of pirates”, said Commander Boudewijn
Boots, commanding officer of HNLMS Evertsen. He continued, “We are here to preserve and ensure the free passage of goods and to make sure merchant communities feel safe and secure against pirates. But when we come across a vessel in distress, we are ready to assist where we can.”



7 Jun 12

Royal Netherlands Navy Assumes Command of NATO’s Counter Piracy Mission

Cdre Ben Bekkering (left) with Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun (right) on board HNLMS Evertsen

Earlier today, Commodore Ben Bekkering (Royal Netherlands Navy), assumed command of Operation Ocean Shield, NATO‟s counter piracy mission from Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun (Turkish Navy) in the port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. As incoming Commander, Commodore Ben Bekkering stressed the need to remain vigilant. "On Admiral Tosun‟s six-month watch, the success rate of pirates has seen a sharp decline. Pirates find it increasingly difficult to deploy from the coast and hunt at sea. But the many incidents over the last few months, including attacks and hijackings, make it absolutely clear that we can't let our guard down. I see it as my absolute task to ensure the trend continues and engage with all partners in the region to maximize our combined effect."

News Release



12 May 12


Late on Friday May 11th a fully equipped Somali pirate action group hunting for vulnerable
merchant traffic in the Arabian Sea was disrupted by the Turkish warship TCG GIRESUN,
NATO’s counter piracy Task Force flagship.  On board the Yemeni type dhow were 14 suspected
pirates and 7 Yemeni hostages of the original crew. The successful disruption was the
culmination of a sequence of events that started on the afternoon of May 10th following
reports that a chemical tanker had been attacked by a skiff launched from a suspected pirate
mother ship. 
News Release

Pirate dhow with RHIB form TCG Giresun alongside   Pirate weapons on board TCG Giresun






12 Apr 12

Mother Ship Disrupted and Crew Freed by NATO Ship

On Wednesday 11th April, the NATO ship HDMS Absalon disrupted a dhow, detained 16
suspected pirates and freed the 12-member dhow crew. During a patrol off the Somali east coast, HDMS ABSALON, part of NATO’s Counter Piracy Operation Ocean Shield spotted an Iranian-flagged dhow which was hijacked one month ago and was currently being used as a mother ship by suspected pirates operating in the area. HDMS ABSALON was tasked to approach the mother ship to carry out a disruption. After stopping the mother ship, HDMS ABSALON sent her boarding team to search the vessel. The team conducted a compliant boarding and assumed full control over the
mother ship. On board the mother ship were 16 Somalis suspected of piracy, as well as a crew of 12 from Pakistan and Iran who had been held hostage on the mother ship throughout the last month.The operation was achieved without the use of arms. After questioning the original crew, they were released with their vessel.“I am glad that we successfully disrupted another suspected pirate attack group and freed hostages as well. I am sure that our resolute operations discourage the
pirates.” said Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi TOSUN, Commander of NATO Counter Piracy Task Force.


28 Feb 12

Danish Ship Disrupts Pirate Vessel

During the early morning of 27th February, off the coast of Somalia, Her Danish Majesty’s Ship
(HDMS) Absalon, acting as part of NATO’s counter-piracy operation (Operation OCEAN SHIELD),
approached a vessel that had been previously captured by pirates and was being used as a mother-ship (from which pirates normally launch attacks on other merchant vessels). HDMS Absalon successfully disrupted the pirate vessel however, two members of the original crew were found wounded and subsequently died. News Release

6 Feb 12

Successful start to 2012 for Operation Ocean Shield

USS Carney
The first 13 days of January were busy ones for NATO’s counter piracy task force; they successfully stopped and disrupted three separate pirate groups from launching attacks on legitimate maritime traffic. In the first incident on Friday 6th January the USS CARNEY acting on intelligence from other counter piracy forces intercepted the Indian flagged dhow AL QASHMI off the south western coast of Oman. Once onboard the dhow the USS CARNEY’S Board and Search Team quickly discovered that all evidence of potential piracy had been disposed of and questioning of the dhow’s crew revealed that they had been hijacked with the 9 suspected pirates launching from a different dhow. The 9 suspected pirates were detained. The crew of the AL QASHMI were offered assistance and then allowed to go about their lawful business. News Release

18 Jan 12

NATO Commander meets Russian Counterpart in Gulf of Aden

Rear Admirla (LH) Sinan Azmi Tosun (right) with Capitan 1st Rank Ildar AhmerovYesterday, Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi TOSUN, Commander of the NATO Counter Piracy Mission Operation Ocean Shield, visited the Commander of Russian Warship Detachment of Russian Pacific Fleet, Captain 1st Rank Ildar AHMEROV on board his flagship ADMIRAL TRIBUTS in the Gulf of Aden. The Russian Federation warship, as part of its counter piracy operation, was escorting a merchant vessel convoy and passed the area where the NATO flagship TCG GIRESUN was patrolling. News Release

16 Jan 11

NATO Warship Renders Assistance to Stricken Dhow

Iranian dhow, TahririOver the weekend, ITS GRECALE, part of the NATO’s Counter Piracy Task Force Operation Ocean Shield, was tasked by NATO Task Force Commander to render assistance to the Iranian flagged dhow, Tahriri, which had reported an engine failure and was dead in the water. The dhow, with 5 Iranian and 9 Pakistani crew members, had recently been released from suspected Somali pirates by
another NATO Task Force unit, HDMS ABSALON, on 7th January.

News Release

13 Jan 12

NATO Warship Disrupts Another Pirate Ship

RFA Fort Victoria with the pirate vessel in the foregroundRFA Fort Victoria, part of NATO’s counter piracy task force Operation Ocean Shield has successfully disrupted a suspected pirate vessel looking to launch attacks on merchant vessels transiting through the Gulf of Aden. On Thursday 12 January, USS Carney also part of Operation Ocean Shield discovered and tracked a suspected pirate vessel. Early on Friday 13th January, RFA Fort Victoria along with her embarked helicopter was tasked to intercept the suspected pirate vessel. At first light, Fort Victoria launched her helicopter to investigate the suspected pirate vessel. In order to stop the vessel, the helicopter fired several rounds of various warning shots. News Release


9 Jan 12

NATO Task Force Neutralises Two Pirate Mother Ships

HDMS AbsalonPirates found by USS CarneyOver the last 3 days in two separate operations units of NATO’S Counter Piracy Task Force 508 successfully identified and neutralised two ocean going dhows that had been pirated and were subsequently being used as mother ships from which Somali pirates were intending to launch attacks on merchant shipping in the sea lanes off Somalia and the southern Arabian coasts. News Release

5 Jan 11

NATO’s Flagship visits Muscat

Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi Tosun with Chief of the Royal Omani Navy , Rear Admirall Abdullah bin Khamis Al-RaisiRear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi TOSUN, Commander of NATO’s Counter Piracy Task Force, with his flagship TCG GIRESUN  welcomed in 2012 by visiting Muscat, Oman. The scheduled visit allowed Rear Admiral (LH) Sinan Azmi TOSUN to pay a visit to the Chief of the Royal Omani Navy, Rear Admiral Abdullah bin Khamis Al-Raisi. During his visit, Rear Admiral (LH) TOSUN had a chance to explain the role of NATO’s counter piracy mission and to stress once again the importance of the regional countries’ support to counter piracy activities in ensuring the safe transit of the merchant vessels. “The Muscat port visit was a good opportunity for us to assure Omani authorities that NATO remains firm in its commitment to fight against piracy in the region. Piracy in the Arabian Sea threatens neighbouring countries. We had an extremely useful and constructive face-to-face discussion about the current situation and shared our thoughts on how to tackle piracy.” said Rear Admiral (LH) TOSUN.

16 Dec 11

NATO and CMF Commanders Meet At Sea

Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi Tosun (right) with Rear Admiral Kaleem Shaukat Si
On 14th December Rear Admiral Sinan Azmi TOSUN Commander of NATO’s Counter Piracy Force, hosted the Task Force Commander of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) Rear Admiral (UH)
Kaleem SHAUKAT SI (Pakistan Navy). The two Commanders met on board the NATO flagship, TCG GIRESUN, in the Gulf of Aden to discuss matters of mutual concerns such as cooperation in the most effective deployment of ships and aircraft in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin. News release


9 Dec 11

Third NATO Radio Broadcast Begins in Praise of Women

Operation Ocean Shield logo

As part of it's counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, NATO has worked on a third radio broadcast which is played on Somali radio stations. This broadcast takes the form of a poem in praise of Somali women. It was written by Liban Obsiye in honour of International Women's Day. The links below take you to the actual script of the broadcast in English and also the Somali script.


English Radio Broadcast      Somali Radio Broadcast



2 Dec 11

Norwegian P-3 Crews Receive NATO’s Africa Medal

Rear Admiral de Solms addresses the Norwegian detachment
On 16 November, Commander Maritime Air Northwood, Rear Admiral Jacques de Solms (FRA N) presented the Norwegian P-3 SAINT detachment with the non-article 5 NATO Africa Medal for their deployment as part of NATO’s counter-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield. Rear Admiral de Solms complimented the P-3 detachment saying, “The SAINT detachment has done an outstanding and exemplary job in the counter-piracy effort. Maritime Command Northwood is extremely pleased with their results and we look forward to many more Norwegian detachments in the future. Their professionalism and ability to conduct surface search (SSC) and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) gathering have proven, yet again, that maritime air is an invaluable asset to counter piracy operations.”

1 Dec 11

NATO Warship Stops Pirate Attack Group

Boarding team from RFA Fort Victoria stopsuspected pirate vessel
On 28 November, the Royal Navy vessel, RFA Fort Victoria was patrolling in an area approximately 420 nautical miles from the Seychelles and 350 nautical miles from the Somali coast as part of NATO’s counter piracy task force 508.

 Early that morning, she received information that a Spanish fishing vessel operating to the north of their position had come under attack from a group of pirate vessels. The ship’s Lynx helicopter was quickly despatched to investigate. Once at the scene, the helicopter identified two suspect vessels, a whaler and a skiff, in the vicinity of the fishing vessel. The faster of the two, a skiff, sped away at over 25 knots as the helicopter gave chase. When the skiff ignored orders to stop, the Lynx helicopter fired warning shots ahead of the fleeing vessel which stopped and the suspected pirates onboard were then transferred to Fort Victoria via boat.

Fort Victoria’s Royal Marines boarding team then boarded the whaler and another skiff in the vicinity. As a result of the day’s action, a total of seven suspected pirates were detained onboard Fort Victoria along with their whaler as evidence, with no injuries being sustained by either side.

Captain Gerry Northwood Royal Navy, embarked in Fort Victoria said: “It has been a long but rewarding operation with many complex aspects. Operating under NATO tasking and in consultation with our headquarters in the Middle East and in the UK, we utilised a range of national and international assets to bring these events to a satisfactory conclusion. Fort Victoria has once again demonstrated that multinational coordination can be successfully deployed to disrupt piracy in this area in order to protect international merchant shipping.”


29 Nov 11

ITS Andrea Doria supports the crew of the MV Rosalia D'Amato

MV Rosalia D'Amato with ITS Andrea Doria in backgroundOver the weekend, NATO’s flag ship, the Italian ship Andrea Doria assisted the MV Rosalia D’Amato after she was released from 7 months in pirate captivity. A team of Italian marines from the San Marco regiment boarded the MV Rosalia D’Amato to act as a Vessel Protection Detachment and were accompanied by a medical and technical team.The medical team looked after the crew while the technical team assessed the engine prior to the Rosalia D’Amato leaving Somali waters.The Italian marines will remain on board as the Vessel Protection Detachment until the vessel reaches her next port of call.Early Sunday afternoon the MV Rosalia D’Amato was able to begin her transit to her next port of call. More pictures

25 Nov 11

United Nations commends NATO Counter Piracy Efforts

UN LogoAt its meeting in New York this week the United Nations Security Council voted to extend its mandate for those fighting piracy off the Horn of Africa by a further 12 months. NATO deployed on its Counter Piracy operations in response to the UN’s concern over the damage and disruption to world trade caused by the rapid growth in piracy off the Somali coast. The extension of the mandate through to the end of 2012 reflects the NATO mission sanctioned by the North Atlantic Council which is also due to expire at the end of 2012. Press Release

16 Nov 11

Northwood Assumes Operational Control of NATO's Counter Piracy Mission L to R Lt Gen Philippe Stoltz, Adm James Stavrides, Adm Sir Trevor SoarYesterday in a ceremony at NATO Allied Joint Force Command Lisbon (JFCLB) in Oeiras, Portugal, NATO’s Maritime Command Headquarters Northwood (MC Northwood) assumed operational control of NATO’s counter-piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield.The handover took place during SACEUR's Commanders Conference, held in the Lisbon Headquarters. Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis, formally handed over the operational control from Lieutenant General Philippe Stoltz, Commander JFCLB, to Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE, Commander MC Northwood.Passing the Operation Ocean Shield tin plate, Admiral Stavridis dedicated an “extraordinary well done to Lieutenant-General Philippe Stoltz and his magnificent team”. He continued, “Admiral Sir Trevor Soar, I am very honoured to pass this plate to a wonderful, professional naval officer”. This change of command ceremony is one of the outcomes from the recent NATO Command Structure Reform. It was launched at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010 and the model and geographical footprint were approved by defence ministers in June 2011. The implementation is expected to take at least one year and the handover from Lisbon to Northwood is the first step in the process.MC Northwood has considerable experience in counter-piracy operations at the tactical level already which it will be able to carry over to the higher operational level. Under the Command Review Northwood will become the Alliance’s single Maritime Headquarters in NATO and as such will have responsibility for delivering command and control of the full spectrum of joint maritime capabilities and to act as NATO’s principal maritime advisor.

15 Nov 11

NATO Parliamentary Assembly meets Counter Piracy Commander

Radm Mattes and VAdm Hans-Jochen Witthauer Deputy Commander of MC Northwood with members of the NATO Parliamentry Assembly
Yesterday members of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly  went on board NATO’s counter piracy flagship, ITS Andrea Doria. The Assembly were in Djibouti for a programme of meetings with officials and ITS Andrea Doria was on a port visit. Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi, Commander of NATO's counter piracy task force and  Captain Domenico Guglielmi, Commanding Officer of the flag ship hosted a meeting on board of ITS Andrea Doria.  It provided a excellent opportunity for RAdm Mattesi to share with the political part of the NATO Alliance his experiences of counter piracy and pirates in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. He and the current NATO Task Force have been in the region since June 2011.The Assembly visit was undertaken by members of the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group and Sub-Committee on NATO partnerships.

For more information about the NATO Parliamentary Assembly visit NATO Parliamentary Assembly

1 Nov 11

HDMS Absalon back for more counter piracy work with NATO

HDMS AbsalonThe Danish frigate, HDMS Absalon today joins the NATO counter piracy task force (TF508) for a second period of duty.HDMS Absalon was NATO’s counter-piracy flagship between January and March 2010 when she spent a busy 3 months in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi, Commander of NATO’s counter piracy Task Force said “ I’m very pleased to welcome HDMS Absalon back into NATO’s counter piracy work and look forward to working with her and her crew. The Absalon is equipped and has the resources necessary to enhance our mission.” News Release

4 Oct 11

NATO Chief Warns of Increasing Pirate Activity

SLide shows the different types of small boats pirates use to attack merchant vesselsIn the last few days the number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia has increased highlighting the fact that now the monsoon is weakening, the pirates are once again ready to attack merchant ships transiting through the Indian Ocean. MC Northwood’s Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Hank Ort (NLD N) states, “in the last few years, it has been the case that come October when the South West monsoon weakens, the pirates have been able to put to sea and we have seen the number of attacks on merchant vessels increase. We are warning vessels that reports show that there are pirate groups operating already in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden. Merchant vessels should ensure that Best Management Practices are followed and that vessels continue to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to board and take control of their ships. Our Naval forces are not complacent and remain vigilant. Despite the lull in pirate attacks over the Summer due to the monsoon they have continued to patrol throughout the region."   News Release    Slide of small boats

26 Sep 11

Norwegian Aircraft Makes First Flight for Operation Ocean Shield

Norwegian Maritime Patrol AircraftOn Friday 23rd September, the Norwegian Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) call sign Golden Arrow made its first flight in Operation Ocean Shield. The MPA arrived at its base on 13th September and after some maintenance work flew along the Somali coast for the first time on Friday. Aircraft provide the NATO ships with information which in turn allows them to patrol the sea in a more focussed area. The area where Somali pirates are operating is so large that an aircraft is essential to be able to patrol it effectively. The Norwegian MPA will be in the area until mid December.


26 Sep 11

USS De Wert Helps Vessel in Distress

RHIB from USS De Wert alongside the stricken dhow
During the early morning of September 21, the USS De Wert and her crew helped a cargo dhow which was experiencing engineering problems and making no way through the water. DE WERT launched her helo to gain an initial observation and shortly after manned the boat deck to launch her rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB). Sixteen crew members, along with one interpreter, loaded the RHIB and approached the dhow. Upon boarding, crewmembers found 5 personnel, along with an inoperable motor and only a bag of rice and a can of tuna to share. The master of the dhow told DE WERT’s boarding officer that they left Yemen on September 5 for a routine twenty-four hour trip to Somalia to deliver fuel in exchange for fish. Unfortunately, without a motor, this twenty-four hour trip turned into being stranded at sea for fifteen days. Upon inspection of the motor, it was discovered that the battery  needed to be replaced, so the RHIB returned to DE WERT to obtain the proper battery along with other supplies that were needed for the repair. As the repair party worked on the motor, other DE WERT crew members distributed food and water among the members of the dhow. When all repairs were made, DE WERT stood by to ensure that all problems were fixed and watched as the dhow maneuvered along on its own into the horizon.

21 Sep 11

NATO Warship Rescues M/V Pacific Express Crew

NATO WARSHIP RESCUES M/V PACIFIC EXPRESS CREWIn the morning of September 21, 2011, NATO’s counter piracy flag ship, Italian Ship (ITS) Andrea Doria, rescued the crew of M/V Pacific Express, 180 nautical miles off the coast of Kenya. M/V Pacific Express had reported being under pirate attack on September 20, 2011.

News Release   More Pictures


19 Sep 11

NATO Counter Piracy Flag Ship ITS Andrea Doria visits Mombasa

RAdm Mattesi with Col. Kombe and Col. Kambuni from the Kenyan Navy and the Mombasa Provincial Commissioner Ernest G. MunyITS ANDREA DORIA, NATO’s counter piracy task force flagship left Mombasa yesterday (18th September) after a period of rest, repairs and maintenance in Kilindini Harbour. The port visit was a good opportunity for Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi (ITA N), Commander of the counter piracy task force to meet with local authorities and officers from the Kenyan Navy to assure them that NATO remains firm in its commitment to fighting piracy in the region.

News Release

29 July 11

NATO and Russian Commanders Meet in Gulf of  Aden

from left, Cdr Alex Serrano (CTF 508 Chief of Staff), Lt Cdr Alexey Vladimirovich Sabancev (RTG Chief of Staff), Capt Fabrizio Cerrai (ITN, ITS ANdrea Doria), Lt jg Roben Sergeevich Arutyunyan (RTG Interpreter), Capt Vladimir Alexandrovich Kondratov (RT COM) and RAdm Gualtiero Mattesi (ITN CTF 508 COM)CPT Vladimir Alexandrovich KONDRATOV (RTG COM) and RADM (ITN) Gualtiero MATTESI CTF 508.Earlier this week, the Commander of the Russian Tactical Group, Captain Vladimir Alexandrovich Kondratov visited the NATO Flagship, ITS Andrea Doria where he had a meeting with NATO’s Commander, Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi. The visit occurred at the end of a port visit to Djibouti by the Russian Group.

20 July 11

NATO Commander meets Turkish Counterpart in Gulf of Aden

from left : CTF 508 RADM (IT Navy) Gualtiero MATTESI,  COM TMTG CAPT. (TU Navy) Murat OZENALP, ITS DORIA CO CPT. (ITN NAVY) Fabrizio CERRAI, COS TMTG CAPT. (TU NAVY) Erhan SENSOYRear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi hosted a visit on board his flagship, ITS Andrea Doria by the Commander of the Turkish Maritime Task Group, Capt. Murat Ozenalp and his Chief of Staff, Capt. Erhan Sensoy. The Turkish Task Group is on national tasking but is contributing to the international community's counter piracy efforts around the Horn of Africa. After the visit RAdm Mattesi said, ""This was a very useful meeting to exchange important information on both Naval Task Forces counter piracy operations."

19 July 11

NATO Begins Second Somali Radio Broadcasts

Ocean Shield logoAs part of it's counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, NATO has worked on a second radio broadcast which can be played on Somali radio stations. The broadcast aims to correct some of the misinformation which the pirates have given to the Somali people. The links below take you to the actual script of the broadcast in English and also the Somali broadcast as it is heard on Somali radio stations. 

Listen to radio broadcast   View Broadcast script


14 July 11

Africa Medals Awarded to Northwood Officers

Officers with Cdre Bruce Belliveau (left) and RAdm Hank Ort (right)Three officers from MC Northwood received Africa medals from Northwood's Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Hank Ort (NLD N) earlier this week. Recipients this week were, Cdr Andy Jackman (GBR N), Cdr Frederic Barthelemy (FRA N) and Lt Michael Watts (FRA N). The Africa medal is presented to all personnel who have spent 30 days continuous service in the area of operations for, in this case, Operation Ocean Shield.


17 June 11

New Commander for NATO's Counter Piracy Task Force 


Commodore Michiel B Hijmans (RNLN), handed over responsibilities to his successor Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi (ITN) attended by Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBEEarlier this week, the Commander of NATO’s counter piracy Task Force, Operation Ocean Shield Commodore Michiel B Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy), handed over responsibilities to his successor Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi (Italian Navy). Looking back at his two terms of Ocean Shield Commodore Hijmans said: “It has been a satisfying and challenging period and I feel privileged and honoured to have commanded the forces in NATO’s counter piracy operation. The excellent cooperation between all task forces has been vital and proved very successful. During the last few months NATO was able to disrupt numerous mother ships and pirate groups, significantly decreasing the number of successful attacks on merchant vessels. As Rear Admiral Mattesi takes over I know he will continue this determination to fight piracy to the full extent of our mandate.” News Release


18 May 11

NATO's Action Frees Hostages and Defeats Pirates

Recent disruptions of several Pirate Action Groups by NATO forces within the Somali Basin have freed a significant number of hostages from captivity and denied the pirates their motherships. By careful co-ordination of his available forces Commodore Michael Hijmans NLD, NATO’s Commander of its Counter Piracy task force, was able to seize the initiative and engage known pirate motherships. NATO was then able to disrupt them by either forcing their surrender or removing their capacity to attack merchant ships by the destruction of their attack skiffs. In the most recent pirate disruption on 16th May the USS BAINBRIDGE was tasked to investigate a report of a pirate attack by the MSC Ayala. In two other separate incidents last week the American ship USS STEPHEN W GROVES and the Danish ship HDMS ESBERN SNARE both encountered armed pirate gangs actively hunting for targets of opportunity.   Press Statement

HDMS Esbern SnareUSS BainbridgeUSS Stephen W Groves


10 May 11

NATO Warship Intercepts Pirate Mother Ship and Frees 15 Hostages

USS BAINBRIDGELast week, a fully equipped pirate action group heading from the Somali coast into the Indian Ocean was intercepted and disabled by the American warship USS BAINBRIDGE, part of NATO’s task force supporting Operation Ocean Shield, NATOs counter piracy mission. When hailed to stop by the USS BAINBRIDGE the pirates surrendered to the NATO warship without any shots being fired. Subsequently the crew of the dhow comprising 15 hostages were released. Press Release



29 Apr 11

NATO’S Latest Counter Piracy Weapon Strikes Early Blow

Esbern SnareYesterday in a coordinated action between NATO‟s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) and Naval forces, armed pirates were stopped at sea and had their piracy equipment taken off them, preventing them from attacking innocent merchant ships. Recently deployed to the Seychelles by Portugal in direct support of Operation OCEAN SHIELD, NATO‟s Counter Piracy mission off Somalia, and flying only its 5th sortie the P3 Orion MPRA observed a suspicious pirate whaler approximately 80 miles from shore. The vessel was loaded with fuel and towing two attack skiffs - a common pirate configuration. When the suspected pirates saw the NATO aircraft they manned the two skiffs which then raced away. In a classic coordinated military operation the Danish warship Esbern Snare, which was 120 miles away, was vectored onto the scene and tasked to investigate. Press Release


26 Apr 11

NATO Warship Destroys Pirate Assets

USS Stephen W. GrovesOn Sunday US warship, USS Stephen W. Groves, operating as part of NATO’s counter piracy mission - Operation Ocean Shield, fired upon two unmanned pirate skiffs that were being towed by the previously pirated vessel Jih Chun Tsai 68.   Operating approximately 100 miles off the coast of Somalia, the NATO warship had successfully intercepted two pirated motor vessels - MV Zirku and MV Rosalia D’amato, and followed the vessels as they headed towards the Somali coast. 

 Press Release




26 Apr 11

NATO Warship Helps to Free Captured Vessel

TCG Giresun recovers weapons from SomaliPiratesOver the weekend Turkish Warship TCG Giresun, operating as part of NATO’s counter piracy mission Operation Ocean Shield, boarded and freed a dhow that had been previously been hijacked by pirates, and was now being used as a pirate mothership.   Earlier, merchant vessel, MV Vienna Express had reported that she had come under attack by pirates, with the mothership dhow loitering nearby.  The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) directed one of her Maritime Reconnaissance and Patrol aircraft (MPRA) to locate the dhow and NATO warship TCG Giresun also raced to the scene of the attack.

Press Release  View Pictures






26 Apr 11

NATO Commander Addresses Global Counter Piracy Conference

Cdre Hijmans on the panel of the Dubai conference on piracyAfter receiving a personal invitation by the Ministry of Foreign affairs (UAE), the commander of NATO‟s counter piracy operation, Ocean Shield, Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy) addressed the high level counter-piracy conference held in Dubai between 18-19 April 11. As NATO‟s tactical counter-piracy commander, Commodore Hijmans presented „a view of the situation from the front line’ to the international audience of counter piracy stakeholders.Speaking about all the maritime forces that are operating in the region, Commodore Hijmans highlighted the counter-piracy efforts that are being made, not just in the Gulf of Aden and the International Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC), but also wider afield, in the Somali Basin. As the Somali Basin coordinator - responsible for all areas outside the IRTC, Commodore Hijmans stipulated that a number of warships and aircraft regularly patrol the Somali coast and other areas known for pirate attacks, with firm action being taken against piracy.  Press Release

21 Apr 11

NATO Warship Disables Pirate Group After Attack on Merchant Ship

TCG GiresunThis morning NATO warship TCG Giresun disabled a pirate group that had attacked and hijacked a merchant vessel.      In the early hours the Turkish warship was hailed by the master of Motor Vessel Hanjin Tianjin - a Korean flagged vessel, who said that his ship was under attack from pirates.  The crew had locked themselves away in the citadel, or strong room.  TCG Giresun quickly responded by sending her helicopter ahead to render assistance.  When the helicopter arrived at the scene no activity was sighted.

Press Release




21 Apr 11

NATO Warship Fires Back After Pirate Attack

HDMS Esbern SnareLast night the boarding team of NATO warship HDMS Esbern Snare returned fire on a pirated dhow after they came under attack.       The Danish warship, which is conducting counter-piracy patrols off the Somali coast had observed the pirated dhow moving very slowly towards a known pirate anchorage, towing one skiff.  As HDMS Esbern Snare approached the dhow, the Danish crew observed some of the men throwing items over the side and climbing in to the skiff.  


Press Release



 13 Apr 11

NATO Operation Delivers Severe Blow Against Armed Pirates

HNLMS on image for high res imageEarlier this month, NATO counter-piracy forces delivered a severe blow against armed pirates off the coast of Somalia by arresting 34 suspected pirates.  The suspected pirates had previously been observed loading up their mother ships and skiffs with fuel and weapons in order to attack merchant ships further out to sea.  In a well-planned operation, NATO warships conducted a night-time strike on the known pirate lairs at sea, close to the coast.  As well as detaining the 34 suspected pirates, 34 innocent hostages, who had been held by the pirates, were freed unharmed by the NATO forces. Press Release      


12 Apr 11

NATO Warship Helps IRENE SL After Release

MV Irene SL asking for medical assistance.MV Irene SLwith helo from  NATO warship USS Bainbridge Early on 8th April, the NATO warship USS Bainbridge received a call from the Master of MV Irene SL asking for medical assistance. The pirates had released Irene SL after receiving a ransom from the vessel’s owner. A team from USS Bainbridge went on board Irene early the next morning to verify the crew was safe and give any assistance needed. The boarding team took food, water, milk, medical supplies, and cleaning supplies for the crew. Press Release


05 Apr 11

NATO Warship Stops Pirates in Gulf of Aden

TCG GIRESUN’s boarding team alongside the pirate skiff, with the Turkish Navy helicopter hovering aboveTCG GIRESUNTurkish warship TCG Giresun, which is part of NATO’s counter piracy operation Ocean Shield, has prevented two pirate boats, known as ‘skiffs’ from carrying out acts of piracy in the Gulf of Aden.

Press Release










03 Apr 11

NATO Warship Rescues Crew From Armed Pirates

A boarding team from HNLMS Tromp disrupt a suspect pirate DhowThe boarding team from HNLMS Tromp arrest suspect piratesOver the weekend NATO flagship HNLMS Tromp rescued the crew from a dhow that had previously been hijacked by armed pirates off the coast of Somalia.  On Saturday, Netherlands warship HNLMS Tromp spotted the pirated dhow heading for a known pirate camp and as the warship closed to investigate, her boarding team was fired upon.  Acting in self defence, the crew from HNLMS Tromp returned fire.  Ten pirates tried to escape in a skiff, but were quickly captured, and five were wounded and subsequently received medical care on board the Dutch warship.

Press Release



28 Mar 11

First Bulgarian Officer to Receive NATO Counter Piracy Africa Medal

Commodore Michiel Hijmans presents Lieutenant Commander Georgi Savov of the Bulgarian Armed Forces the NATO Non Article Five Africa Medal for his participation in NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield.   At an operational medal parade on board the NATO flagship HNLMS De Ruyter, Lieutenant Commander Georgi Savov of the Bulgarian Armed forces became the first Bulgarian officer to receive the NATO Non Article Five Africa Medal for his participation in NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield. Press Release






28 Mar 11

NATO Flagship Welcomes Chinese Navy Taskforce Commander 

Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy), gave a warm welcome to his Chinese counterpart, Commodore Han Xiaoh, when he visited the new NATO flagship HNLMS Tromp at sea in the Gulf of Aden. At the weekend the Commander of NATO maritime forces conducting counter piracy operation Ocean Shield, Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy), gave a warm welcome to his Chinese counterpart, Commodore Han Xiaoh, when he visited the new NATO flagship HNLMS Tromp at sea in the Gulf of Aden. Press Release

View pictures





23 Mar 11

HNLMS Tromp Takes Over as Flagship of NATO Counter Piracy Task Group

HNLMS Tromp_(F803) Click on image for a larger photo.After serving as the NATO flagship for 4 months in the counter piracy mission Operation Ocean Shield,  the Dutch warship HNLMS DE Ruyter handed over her flagship duties to HNLMS Tromp yesterday. Tromp is the third warship to hold flagship duties for the NATO Task Group under Netherlands command. Press Release  






17 Mar 11

NATO broadcasts on Somali Radio

Ocean Shield Logo. Click on image for a higher resolution picture

As part of the counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, NATO has worked on a radio broadcast that can be played on Somali radio stations. The broadcast aims to correct some of the misinformation which the pirates have given to the Somali people. The links below take you to the actual script of the broadcast in English and also the Somali broadcast as it is heard on Somali radio stations.  View translated script Listen to Broadcast





08 Mar 11

Successful cooperation between NATO and Combined Maritime Forces

MV Guanabara

MV Guanabara

This weekend a joint effort between two counter piracy task forces led to the safe recovery of the vessel, MV Guanabara. On Saturday the MV Guanabara issued a distress call saying she was under attack by pirates. The crew retreated into the citadel or safe room and kept in contact with the counter piracy forces. The USS Bulkeley of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), was the closest naval vessel that could respond and proceeded to the scene of the incident. The NATO warship TCG Giresun was tasked to support USS Bulkeley. Press Release/a>


03 March 11

East and West Meet in the Middle

CDRE Hijmans meets Indian ship INS Ganga, Captain Prakash and its crew.Yesterday Commodore Michiel Hijmans, commander of the NATO counter piracy task force, Operation Ocean Shield visited the commander of the Indian ship INS Ganga, Captain Prakash, which is in the area conducting merchant ship convoys. After a quick transfer by sea boats Captain Prakash welcomed the NATO delegation on board the INS Ganga. India has been conducting counter piracy operations since August 2008 and has safely escorted all ships in their convoys.  Press Release

30 Jan 11

NATO Warns Of Clear and Present Danger From Pirate Attacks

Razor wire a good example of counter piracy measures.The Dubai Princess using water cannon as an effective defense against piracy.NATO Maritime HQ based at Northwood, London has published updated guidelines on the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) website to highlight the very real threat from pirate attacks to all vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden, Somali Basin and Indian Ocean – a sea area the size of Western Europe.

Press release      




29 Jan 11

NATO Warship Frees Crew After Attack By PiratesAn image of De Ruyter from the New York Star

Boarding Teams from HNLMS De Ruyter board the merchant vessel New York StarThis morning Dutch warship HNLMS De Ruyter, part of NATO’s counter piracy operation Ocean Shield, freed the crew from merchant vessel New York Star after they had barricaded themselves in to a ‘safe room’ (known as a citadel), when their ship came under attack by pirates yesterday. Press release   




28Jan 11

NATO Warship Rescues 2 Seamen After Pirate AttackCrew members from The New York Star arriving at Esbern Snare.

Danish Ship HDMS Esbern Snare. Click on image for a larger photoDanish warship HDMS Esbern Snare - part of the NATO’s counter piracy mission - Operation Ocean Shield, today rescued 2 men from a life boat after they had fled from their ship, Motor Vessel (MV) Beluga Nomination after an attack by armed pirates on Monday 24 January. Press release 








26 Jan 11

NATO Commander meets Russian Counterpart in Gulf of Aden


Yesterday, Commodore Michiel Hijmans, commander of the NATO counter piracy mission Operation Ocean Shield, met with Commander Podkopailo of the Russian task group at sea in the Gulf of Aden. The Russian Federation warship Admiral Vinogradov was escorting a convoy of merchant ships and passed the area where the NATO flagship HNLMS De Ruyter was patrolling.  Press Release

CO of the Admiral Vinogradov welcomes Commodore Hijmans

NATO and Russian Federation membersDiscussing counter piracy 'in the field'


14 Jan 11

NATO Warship Assists Ship After Pirate Attack in Arabian Sea

Turkish warship TCG Gaziantep - part of the NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, boarded and searched Motor Vessel (MV) Leopard after it had been attacked by armed pirates. In the afternoon of January 12th MV Leopard was attacked by two pirate skiffs. As the pirates fired small calibre weapons, the crew retreated to a secure area in the ship known as a ‘citadel’. Press Release

Turkish warship TCG Gaziantep patrolling near to MV Leopard.The helicopter from TCG Gaziantep overflying MV Leopard.The stern of MV Leopard where it is believed the pirates climbed on board.

11 Jan 11

NATO and Chinese Navy Counter Piracy Commanders Welcome Opportunity to Meet in Arabian Sea

Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy),and Rear Admiral Zhan Huachen, on board his Chinese navy flag ship, FFG Zhoushan.   The Commander of NATO forces conducting counter piracy operation Ocean Shield Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy), and SNMG2 personnel visit the Chinese navy flag ship, FFG Zhoushan.  At the weekend the Commander of NATO forces conducting counter piracy operation Ocean Shield - Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy), welcomed the opportunity to visit Rear Admiral Zhan Huachen, on board his Chinese navy flag ship, FFG Zhoushan.The NATO flagship, HNLMS De Ruyter, was sailing south having previously been suppressing pirate mother ships in the north Arabian Sea, and as the Chinese flag ship was close by, waiting to convoy merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden in order to protect them from pirate gangs, the navy commanders took the opportunity to rendezvous at sea. Press release

10 Jan 11

NATO Warship Disrupts Pirates in Gulf Of AdenThe boarding crew from USS Laboon dispose of items from a pirate skiff as used by somali pirates.

The boarding crew from USS Laboon board a suspect pirate skiff. Click on image for a higher resolution photoEarlier today, the NATO warship USS Laboon, part of NATO’s counter piracy operation, OCEAN SHIELD came across a suspect pirate skiff in the Gulf of Aden and having boarded it, ensured it was no longer able to be used to attack merchant ships.

Press release




03 Jan 11

First Submarine in Operation Ocean Shield

The Zeeleeuw a Dutch Walrus class submarine. Click on the image for a higher resolution photo.

The Dutch submarine HNLMS Zeeleeuw (Sealion) has been part of NATO's counter piracy mission, code-named 'Operation Ocean Shield'. HNLMS Zeeleeuw was the first submarine used by NATO in their fight against piracy. The intelligence she was able to provide contributed to the identification and suppresion of known pirate group

As well as a submarine, NATO has warships in Ocean Shield. They work with the other maritime forces, such as the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and the EU’s Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) to deter and disrupt acts of piracy off the Horn of Africa. Click here for video.




03 Jan 11

NATO Counter Piracy Warship Remain Ever Vigilant In The Gulf Of Aden

HDMS Esbern Snare boarding team investigate suspect piratesLate last week Danish warship, HDMS Esbern Snare, who is part of NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, stopped and boarded a suspect pirate vessel in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden.   The crew of Motor Vessel (MV) Elly Maersk, who was sailing in the Gulf of Aden, had seen the vessel acting suspiciously, and put out a radio message, which was picked up by the Danish warship.  The crew of HDMS Esbern Snare responded immediately, by launching her helicopter and sailing towards the position.  Press Release 

16 Dec 10

NATO Counter Piracy Commander Meets with Combined Maritime Forces' Counterpart

Commodore Michiel Hijmans, Commander of NATO’s counter piracy mission (Right of Photo) Operation Ocean Shield,  with his CMF counterpart Commodore Abdul Aleem.Yesterday, Commodore Michiel Hijmans, Commander of NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, met with his CMF counterpart Commodore Abdul Aleem.   The two commanders met on board HNLMS De Ruyter (Royal  Netherlands Navy) in the Gulf of Aden to discuss matters of mutual concern, including cooperation in the deployment of ships and aircraft in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.   SNMG2 commanded by Commodore Hijmans has recently taken over from SNMG1 and is now in the area with ships from Denmark, The Netherlands, Turkey and the U.S. The commodore and his staff were very pleased to meet some of their CMF counterparts. Press release

13Dec 10

NATO Counter Piracy Commander Passes Helm to His Successor

Commodore Christian Rune (Royal Danish Navy), the Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) hands over command of NATO’s counter piracy Task Force of warships operating off the coast of Somalia, to Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy).Over the weekend Commodore Christian Rune (Royal Danish Navy), the Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) handed over command of NATO’s counter piracy Task Force of warships operating off the coast of Somalia, to Commodore Michiel Hijmans (Royal Netherlands Navy).  Commodore Hijmans is the Commander of SNMG2.  The handover took place onboard Danish warship Esbern Snare in the Southern Red Sea  Press Release



07 Dec 10

Italian Warship ITS Bersagliere Sails Home After Taking Part in NATO's Counter Piracy Mission

ITS BersagliereItalian warship ITS BERSAGLIERE is on her way home after completing NATO counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa. The ship and her crew have spent more than two months helping to ensure the safe passage of merchant ships transiting the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden.  By patrolling this busy sea area, BERSAGLIERE has helped to prevent pirate attacks from taking place.  Press Release


06 Dec 10

US Warship Kauffman Sails for Home After Completing NATO Counter Piracy Operations

USS Kauffman. Click on thumbnail for a larger imageUS warship KAUFFMAN has set sail for home after completing more than 4 months on NATO’s counter piracy operation ‘Ocean Shield’ off the Horn of Africa.   During the last 4 months USS KAUFFMAN disrupted 4 pirate attacks on merchant shipping and disarmed 17 suspected pirates in the process.  Following one attack on 1 November 2010, KAUFFMAN came to the aid of the crew from merchant vessel Go Trader, after the master put out a ‘may day’ call to say his ship was being hijacked by armed men.  USS KAUFFMAN raced to the scene, and after conducting a full search of the ship, they were able to confirm that the pirates had fled.  Only then did the crew feel safe enough to leave their “safe room”

Press Release.          

02 Dec 10

HMS Montrose Heads Home after 100 Days in NATO Counter Piracy Mission

HMS MontroseYesterday, UK warship HMS MONTROSE left NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield after conducting 3 months of counter piracy operations.  She is now making her way back to her homeport of Plymouth and a well deserved Christmas leave.  During her deployment, MONTROSE disrupted several piracy attacks and disarmed many suspected pirates. One such incident took place on 25 October. Pirates had attacked and boarded the MV BELUGA FORTUNE as the crew escaped into a safe room where they hid from the pirates.  MONTROSE, being the closest warship, sailed more than 700 nautical miles for more than 24 hours to assist.  When they arrived at the Beluga Fortune’s position, MONTROSE dispatched a boarding team to search the vessel. After verifying that there were no pirates onboard the vessel was declared safe for the crew to leave the safe room to recommence their voyage.  Press Release

30 Nov 10

NATO Ship USS Kauffman Prevents Pirate Attack

USS KauffmanYesterday evening, while patrolling in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, the helicopter from US warship KAUFFMAN detected a suspicious skiff approaching a merchant vessel transiting in the IRTC. As soon as the suspected pirates realised that they had been spotted by the crew in the helicopter, they immediately discarded their pirate paraphernalia overboard. KAUFFMAN raced to the position of the skiff while the helicopter stayed in vicinity to prevent the skiff escaping. KAUFFMAN approached the skiff and illuminated it with searchlights. After the inspection it was clear that the skiff and the suspected pirates would no longer constitute a danger to merchant ships without their piracy equipment.

30 Nov 10

NATO Ship RFA Fort Victoria Tracks and Disrupts Pirate Vessel

RFA Fort VictoriaYesterday, the UK ship RFA Fort Victoria currently part of NATO’s counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield successfully disrupted a skiff while patrolling off the coast of Somalia. Late on Sunday afternoon, Fort Victoria’s helicopter identified a whaler anchored offshore near Hobyo, fully loaded with fuel and with pirates on board ready to leave. As darkness fell RFA Fort Victoria, her helicopter and Royal Marines boarding teams from the Fleet Protection Group shadowed the pirate vessel as it transited due east from the shore. As Fort Victoria’s appeared out of the blackness, the Marines quickly surrounded the pirate whaler which was now towing two smaller vessels, supported by the helicopter’s sniper team. 

Press Release



29 Nov 10

NATO Flagship Esbern Snare Secures Merchant Ship after Pirate Attack

HDNS Esbern SnareOver the weekend, a boarding team from the NATO flagship HDMS Esbern Snare conducted a search of the merchant ship MCL Bremen to ensure that no pirates were on board after an attack by pirates. On the morning of 26th November the master of the Antigua and Barbuda flagged MCL Bremen issued a distress call stating that his ship was under attack from pirates. As he gathered the crew in a safe room, the master saw some pirates climb on board his vessel. With the crew in the safe room, the master was unable to verify whether the suspected pirates were still on board or they had left the vessel. Esbern Snare raced to the Bremen’s position and upon arriving conducted a security sweep. The boarding team from Esbern Snare were then able to determine that the pirates had left the merchant vessel. Having secured the ship, the Danish boarding party alerted the crew who were at last able to leave the safe room. “Even though we are doing our utmost to prevent the pirates from attacking merchant shipping in the area, the immensity of the Indian ocean means that we are unable to cover all of the shipping lanes. In this case the availability of a safe room on board Bremen ensured the safety of the crew until we were able to respond” said Cdre Christian Rune, Royal Danish Navy, Commanding Officer of NATO counter piracy operation, Ocean Shield.


24 Nov 10

NATO Warship Esbern Snare Forces Pirates to Abandon AttackA helicopter from Esbern Snare watches over a pirate skiff in operation Ocean Shield

Esbern Snare disrupts pirate activity in the Gulf of AdenDuring the early hours of yesterday morning the master of bulk carrier MV Carmencita put out a may-day call to say his ship was being attacked by a group of pirates in the Indian Ocean.    Danish warship Esbern Snare – the flag ship for NATO’s counter piracy operation, ‘Ocean Shield’ responded immediately by launching her helicopter to over fly the scene and let the pirates know that a NATO warship was on her way to assist the terrified crew.    The master relayed to HDMS Esbern Snare that his crew would be going to their safe room, while he tried to use evasion techniques to fend off the attackers - who had fired rocket propelled grenades and AK-47 gunfire at the ship.

Press Release

24 Nov 10

NATO Warship HNLMS Amsterdam Disrupts Pirate skiff Again


Pirate Skiff being tracked by the helicopter crew of the warship AmsterdamYesterday, the Dutch warship AMSTERDAM part of NATO’s counter-piracy operation OCEAN SHIELD, detected a pirate skiff while patrolling along the east coast of Somalia. AMSTERDAM’s helicopter detected the skiff as it was speeding down the coastline. Upon closer inspection, it was established that the attack-skiff was rigged with two powerful engines and had 7 suspected pirates on board with pirate paraphernalia clearly visible.

Press release.  View photos



24 Nov 10

NATO Warship Destroys Pirate Boat

HMS MontroseAs her deployment in the Somali Basin draws to a close, British warship HMS Montrose, operating as part of NATO’s counter piracy operation, Ocean Shield, left a parting shot with Somali pirates.   During one of her dawn patrols off the Somali coast, HMS Montrose’s Lynx helicopter spotted a pirate whaler anchored off a pirate known camp and it was quickly identified as the whaler from MV Zouflecar – which has been acting as a pirate ‘mother ship’ since it was taken by pirates on 3 November 2010.  Press release.


19 Nov 10

NATO Warship Amsterdam Disrupts Pirates in the Indian Ocean
This morning whilst on sea patrol near the pirate camps on the east coast of Somalia, a helicopter from Dutch warship HNLMS Amsterdam, who is operating as part of NATO’s counter-piracy mission - Operation Ocean Shield, identified an ’attack group’ of suspected pirates. Equipment, such as ladders and weapons were clearly visible inside the pirate ‘whaler’ and two attack skiffs. As the Dutch helicopter fired warning shots, HNLMS Amsterdam’s Commanding Officer gave the order to launch the ship’s boarding teams to intercept the suspected pirates. After throwing their pirate equipment over board, the gang surrendered and were taken to the warship for questioning and collection of evidence. The whaler was destroyed by the NATO warship to avoid it being used for piracy again.
Press Release

Pirate skiff          Boarding team from HNLMS Amsterdam approach suspected pirate skiff          Pirates throw weapons overboard

15 Nov 10

NATO warship Esbern Snare Disrupts Pirates in the Gulf of Aden

Pirate Video click on the image to view videoIn the early hours of 15 November while patrolling in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, Danish warship HDMS ESBERN SNARE, detected a suspected pirate skiff loitering in the vicinity of merchant traffic lanes.  Upon closer inspection, the crew established that 7 persons were on board the skiff and a pirate ladder was clearly visible.   ESBERN SNARE launched their boarding team in order to intercept and disrupt the suspected pirates.  Press Release  View video


14 Nov 10

NATO Warship RFA Fort Victoria Disrupts Pirates

Marines from Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (FPGRM) boarding pirate vessel with RFA FORT VICTORIA in the backgroundRoyal Marines from Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (FPGRM) approaching the pirate vesselYesterday while patrolling the West Indian Ocean between the Somali Coast and the Seychelles, the bridge crew on the UK ship, RFA FORT VICTORIA received a call from a Seychelles fishing vessel that had sighted a possible pirate vessel. The fishing vessel had spotted a suspicious vessel with an unusually large crew and a skiff onboard. FORT VICTORIA intercepted the suspicious vessel and identified it as being a whaler often used by pirates in the Indian Ocean. Therefore it was decided to board the whaler and investigate further. Press Release

05 Nov 10

Dutch submarine Zeeleeuw Completes NATO Counter Piracy Mission

Dutch Walrus class submarine during exercise in the Nort seaFor the past 2 months Dutch submarine HNLMS Zeeleeuw (Sealion) has been part of NATO’s counter piracy mission, code-named Operation Ocean Shield.  The submarine has been patrolling off the coast of Somalia, gathering intelligence about the modern day pirates that prowl the Indian Ocean in search of merchant ships to hijack.    Able to operate in shallow waters, Zeeleeuw has been able to monitor the pirate camps that operate along the coast and pass information to the maritime forces operating out at sea.    Speaking about Zeeleeuw’s contribution to Operation Ocean Shield, Rear Admiral Hank Ort, who is the Chief of Staff at NATO HQ Northwood, said “NATO’s counter-piracy mission has been strengthened by the presence of a Dutch submarine.  The intelligence she was able to provide contributed to the identification and suppression of known pirate groups”.    As well as a submarine, NATO currently has five warships in Ocean Shield.  The warships work   with the other maritime forces, such as the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) and the EU’s Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) to deter and disrupt acts of piracy off the Horn of Africa. View Pictures  View video Press release


01 Nov 10

NATO warship USS Kauffman Assists Ship After Pirate Attack

USS Kauffman boarding team on Go TraderUSS Kaffman FFG-59US warship, USS KAUFFMAN, participating in NATO’s counter piracy operation Ocean Shield, together with a maritime patrol aircraft from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force, came to the assistance of merchant vessel ‘Go Trader’ over the weekend after she was attacked by pirates in the Indian Ocean. The armed pirates had fired on the merchant vessel, before scaling up the side of the ship.  The master was able to issue a distress call, before joining his crew in a ‘safe room’.   Press Release