Operation Atalanta, the European Union (EU)-led naval deployment in September completed Aldabra II, an advanced training exercise promoting co-operation between the EU force and its Indian Ocean partners.
Over a five-day period in the Seychelles, European Union Naval Force (EU NavFor) representatives, the Seychelles Defence Forces, the Regional Co-ordination Operations Centre (RCOC) in Victoria, the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), the Critical Maritime Routes in the Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO), United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and legal and maritime security representatives of the host country shared knowledge and experiences on maritime security in the north-western Indian Ocean.
The exercise comprised an initial theoretical phase followed by a practical one.
During the three-day theoretical phase, Operation Atalanta’s legal advisor conducted a seminar on the legal basis for international maritime operations. The seminar counted on “participation” of representatives of the Seychelles’ Attorney General Office, Supreme Court, Judiciary Police, Antinarcotics Bureau, Commissioner of Seychelles Prisons, RCOC, Foreign Affairs Department and Seychelles Defence Forces, a statement read.
This phase was complemented by panels related to capabilities provided by Operation Atalanta participants. Other lectures dealt with maritime threats in the area, the use of the IORIS (Indo Pacific Regional Information Sharing) platform as a tool for information management and command and control in the area of operations (AoO), use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in maritime operations, search and rescue (SAR) at sea and theory in visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operations.
All lecture topics were applied during the practical phase by way of execution of a counter-piracy exercise rehearsal. Seychelles Defence Forces personnel, along with an EU NavFor boarding team, carried out a boarding exercise at the Seychelles Coast Guard facilities on a vessel provided by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime simulating a suspicious boat. Both training and execution saw participation of the Spanish frigate ESPS Navarra (F85). During the exercise, the IORIS platform was used as link between all responsible for maritime security in the area.
The Aldabra exercises are essential for co-operation and co-ordination between all involved in maritime security in the north-western Indian Ocean region with the training, according to the statement, providing “an excellent opportunity to test procedures and capabilities available to Operation Atalanta to achieve a safer Indian Ocean together”.