NATO naval task force sets sail round Africa
Aug 8, 2007
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The guided missile cruiser USS NORMANDY of the Ticonderoga class, the flagship of a six-ship squadron of NATO ships now circumnavigating Africa. After visiting Nigeria the ships will exercise with the South African Navy off the Cape coast before making an official visit to Cape Town. Picture US Navy
A NATO maritime squadron consisting of six naval ships has sailed from the Mediterranean to undertake a unique circumnavigation of the African continent to highlight NATO’s capability of upholding security and international law on the high seas.
The ships from Canada, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Portugal and the United States, forming NATO’s Standing Naval Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) and under the command of Rear Admiral Mike Mahon of the US Navy on board his flagship USS Normandy (CG60), a Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, are currently heading for West Africa. The first ‘port of call’ will be to the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, which has been the scene of much unrest with kidnapping of oil workers from oil rigs and other installations off the coast.
The ships will also make a four-day visit to Cape Town and will conduct exercises with ships of the South African Navy – this being the first time that the SA Navy will have exercised with a NATO force of ships in local waters.
Later the Group will exercise off the coast of Somalia, this also being troubled waters where repeated acts of piracy have taken place. In mid-September the ships will visit the Seychelles before ending the mission by passing through the Suez Canal.
According to NATO secretary-general Jaap de Hoop, ensuring maritime security on the high seas in international waters is a key mission for the 26-country alliance.
“Maritime security, ensuring the safe passage of shipping and supporting a coordinated international approach to protect energy supplies are high priorities for NATO,” he said.
The Alliance says that the 12,500 nautical mile mission round Africa will serve to demonstrate NATO’s continuing ability to respond to emerging crisis situations on a global scale and foster links with regional navies and other maritime organisations.
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