While incidents of piracy off Africa’s east coast are declining this does not mean any lessening of patrol and interdiction operations as shown when NATO Operation Ocean Shield Commander, Commodore Henning Amundsen, met with the Commander of Japan’s Escort Division 6.
The meeting with Captain Tsutomu Iwasawa took place aboard JS Akebono in the Gulf of Aden and was an information sharing and counter-piracy tactics discussion session.
The Japanese force provides anti-piracy escorts for merchant vessels transiting between the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa in the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).
A statement issued by NATO’s Allied Command said independently deployed ships in the area are “a significant contribution” to deterring pirates.
“The Japanese Escort Division provides an important and steady contribution to the international counter-piracy effort. It is important for NATO to maintain a close relationship with the forces and independent deployers in the area as co-operation is essential to protect mariners transiting the Gulf of Aden,” Amundsen said.
His meeting with Iwasawa came only days after Amundsen met with Eunavfor Commander, Commodore Peter Lenselink, aboard the NATO flagship HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen. Their discussions were also centred on heightened and improved counter-piracy operations and tactics, the decrease in incidents of piracy notwithstanding.
NATO has contributed to the international counter piracy effort off the Horn of Africa since December 2008. The mission has expanded from escorting UN and World Food Programme shipping under Operation Allied Provider and protecting merchant traffic in the Gulf of Aden under Operation Allied Protector. In addition to these activities and as part of the latest mission, Operation Ocean Shield, NATO is working with other international bodies to help develop capacity of countries in the region to tackle piracy on their own.
Fridtjof Nansen and the USS Dewert are the only two NATO ships currently on station of the Horn of Africa/Gulf of Aden region as part of Operation Ocean Shield.