A recent bilateral naval exercise was conducted by NATO and Russia, to hone skills and cooperation for potential anti-piracy action.
A boarding squad from the ITS San Marco, the flagship of NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield, and the Russian Udaloy-class destroyer, the Severomorsk participated in the exercise.
The exercise was conducted in the Gulf of Aden, as part of the international effort to combat piracy in the waters around the Indian Ocean. The NATO-Russia Council, established in 2002 as a venue for communication and cooperation between Russia and the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, was responsible for organizing the exercise. The idea was born out of a recent meeting of the council, the purpose of which was to initiate steps towards greater cooperation between the two powerful presences in the Indian Ocean.
Italian Read Admiral Antonio Natale commented on the exercise upon its conclusion: “This day will be a milestone in the cooperation between the Russian Federation and NATO and, I’m sure, its effects will not only be limited to counter-piracy activities but offers the prospect of other types of constructive engagement in future.”
The exercise involved the San Marco acting as a hijacked vessel, as a team from the Severomosrk attempted to board and free the vessel. Then, reversing roles, the Severomorsk pretended to be a ship illegally trafficking weapons, with a boarding party from the San Marco inspecting the ship for signs of illegal cargo.