NATO has ended its Indian Ocean counter-piracy mission (High Risk Area) after a sharp fall in attacks, the alliance said on Wednesday, as it shifts resources to deterring Russia in the Black Sea and people smugglers in the Mediterranean.
NATO says its “Ocean Shield” operation, as well as European Union and other counter-piracy missions, have significantly reduced attacks, with no ships captured off Somalia since May 2012, down from more than 30 ships at the peak in 2010-11.
After more than a decade of NATO-led operations far beyond its borders, the U.S.-led military alliance is shifting to defend its territory to deter Russia in the east, following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
“The global security environment has changed dramatically in the last few years and NATO navies have adapted with it,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said in a statement. “NATO has increased maritime patrols in the Baltic and Black Seas. We are also working to help counter human smuggling in the Mediterranean.”
Earlier this month, NATO broadened its operations in the Mediterranean to help the European Union stop criminals trafficking refugees from North Africa.
Operation ‘Atalanta’, the European Unions’s counter-piracy mission off the coast of East Africa, has been renewed for another two years.
The European Union has extended its anti-piracy mission off Somalia for a further two years. The EU Council agreed on 25 November to extend Atalanta’s mandate until 31 December 2018. It also set aside just over EUR11 million (USD11.6 million) via the ‘Athena mechanism’ to finance the mission’s common costs.
Concentrating primarily on the Somali coast, the mission was launched in December 2008 to detect and deter piracy in the region.