NATO Extends Counter Piracy Operations Until 2014
NATO has announced its recent agreement to extend the Alliance’s counter piracy naval operation, Ocean Shield, for an additional two years ending in 2014. The operation is based off the Horn of Africa in an effort to protect merchant traffic from pirate attacks.
NATO has expressed its long-term commitment to battle the piracy threat that exists in the Gulf of Aden and the Western Indian Ocean. Officials believe that this decision will exemplify that wholeheartedly.
First started in 2008 and initially scheduled to end in 2012, the operations will now continue into 2014 sending a clear message to pirates. In an official statement, an Alliance spokesman said that a pirate’s capacity to threaten shipping is decreasing and NATO's determination is unchanged.
With cooperation and assistance from the maritime community, individual nations and other U.S. and EU based anti-piracy operations, NATO’s naval efforts do seem to be making a difference. In 2012 thus far, the number of successful pirate hijackings have decreased significantly. In January alone, there were four thwarted pirate attacks. In result, 80 alleged pirates have been captured by anti-piracy forces; 59 of those 80 were arrested by NATO ships. In comparison, 29 pirate attacks and 6 ship seizures occurred in January 2011.