Operation Atalanta Commander designate visits NATO Allied Maritime Command


The future Task Force Commander for the EU’s counter-piracy Operation Atalanta, Rear Admiral Jonas Haggren (Swedish Navy), visited the NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) this week to meet with MARCOM Chief of Staff Rear Admiral Giorgio Lazio for discussions concerning counter-piracy operations and other maritime security issues.

“I enjoyed our visit with Rear Admiral Haggren and we look forward to working together in the ongoing counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa,” said Rear Admiral Lazio. “Close co-ordination between the various counter-piracy forces has proved invaluable in helping to eradicate piracy from the waters off Somalia.”

Rear Admiral Haggren was commissioned by the Swedish Naval Academy in 1987. He previously commanded the First Submarine Flotilla and most recently served as the Head of the Navy Training and Procurement Directorate, Swedish Armed Forces HQ. He will take command of TF-465 in early 2015.

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 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.

NATO’s counter-piracy mandate for Operation Ocean Shield is in effect until the end of 2016. While NATO forces focus their presence in the joint operations area during periods when assets are most relevant, NATO remains ready to respond.

EU Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta is part of the EU’s comprehensive approach to tackle symptoms and root causes of piracy off the coast of Somalia and the EU Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa adopted in November 2011.

EU Naval Force conducts counter-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia and the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the protection of World Food Programme (WFP) shipping carrying humanitarian aid to the people of Somalia and Horn of Africa, as well as the logistic shipping supporting the African Union troops conducting peace support operations in Somalia (AMISOM). Additionally, Operation Atalanta contributes to the monitoring of fishing activity off the coast of Somalia. Operation Atalanta’s mandate has been extended to December 2016.

Due to the combined efforts of the international community and the shipping industry, attacks by pirates along the East African coast are down sharply. In 2011 pirates managed to capture 24 ships, but in 2012 only seven ships were successfully hijacked. In 2011, we recorded 129 pirate attacks, while in 2012 there were only 20 attacks conducted.

NATO provides advice and information to the maritime community through the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC), including best practices in avoiding, deterring or delaying piracy attacks in high risk areas. Experience and data collected by naval/military forces shows that the application of these recommendations are making a significant difference in preventing a ship becoming a victim.