BY PHILIP MWAKIO
A naval warship belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), which is part of allied forces combating piracy off the Horn of Africa, is expected to dock at the port of Mombasa on Labour Day.
ITS San Marco is part of the¬†Nato¬†Forces currently in Operation Ocean Shield alongside two other vessels, TCG Gokova (Turkey) and USS Nicholas of the United States of America Navy. A communiqu√©¬† fromNato‚Äôs Allied Maritime Command¬† Public Affairs Officer Lt Gwenn Laine¬† dated April 26¬† says¬† the warship, ¬†which¬† also serves as¬†¬†NatoForces flagship, ITS San Marco (contributed by the Italian Navy) will be in Kenyan waters¬† for¬† one week.
During its stay at the port, Italian ambassador to Kenya¬† Paola Imperiale will join Rear Admiral Antonio Natale to meet civilians and Kenyan Government officials¬† and make donations¬† to local charities. And¬† Commander of theNato¬† taskforce Natale will host a media briefing where he will field questions from invited journalists on May 4.
‚ÄúIt¬† will be an opportunity for Natale¬† to engage with¬† Kenyan and international media on¬†Nato‚Äôs mission¬† to counter piracy¬† in the Indian Ocean,‚Äô‚Äô Lt Laine stated.
A tour will take place at sea on May 5 with ITS San Marco departing port with journalists on board. They will be transferred back¬† to Mombasa by helicopter later in the afternoon.¬†Nato¬†is a key player¬† in the collective endeavor of the¬† international community to protect waterways in the Indian Ocean, counter maritime¬† piracy and develop capacity building¬† programmes with governments.
‚Äú¬†Nato¬†is acting under a United Nations mandate and its efforts have contributed significantly to the considerable drop in¬† piracy off the coast of¬† Eastern Africa,‚Äù Lt Laine said.
He said instances of piracy¬† were at the lowest¬† levels¬† seen in 5 years and are down by 35 per cent todate in 2013.