NATO‚Äôs counter-piracy flagship, the Alvaro De Bazan participated in an air defence training drill in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday (5 March 2014) meant to keep the ship‚Äôs crew ready for any challenge on the high seas, including their mission to deter Somali pirates.
The Spanish vessel also currently leads the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) which is one of the Alliance‚Äôs immediate response forces at sea.¬†‚ÄúAs the Commander of SNMG2, I am responsible to ensure we are ready for any contingency and while we are currently assigned to NATO‚Äôs counter piracy mission, Operation Ocean Shield, my force, if ordered, must be capable of responding to any crisis anywhere in the world within 48 hours,‚Äù¬†said Rear Admiral Eugenio Admiral del Rio.
The Alvaro de Bazan is a modern Aegis air defence frigate. French air force fighters from their base in Djibouti participated in the drill which tested the ability of the De Bazan to track their movements and lock onto the jets during a simulated attack with its high tech radar and Aegis air defence system. To keep his forces ready for all contingencies the Admiral routinely puts his command ship through its paces, including drills of a high intensity combat nature, even while they are conducting anti-piracy patrols.
NATO ships have been working with vessels from the European Union, as well as other international navies and the commercial shipping industry to fight piracy off the Somali coast. Their actions have reduced the level of piracy from 147 attacks in 2011 to just 5 in 2013.