Thursday, March 09, 2006

Operation Active Endeavor

RFS Moskva and HMS Nottingham (foreground)
My latest short video is up on eDefense Online. It's shows Russian Marines conducting a board-and-search exercise.

On Feb. 11-16, 2006, the Russian guided-missile cruiser RFS Moskva participated in joint training exercises in the Mediterranean off Sicily with the UK's air-defense destroyer HMS Nottingham (D 91). The Moskva is an 11,200-ton Slava-class cruiser serving with Russian Navy's Black Sea Fleet. Her main armament consists of 16 P-500 Bazalt (NATO: SS-N-12 Sandbox) supersonic anti-ship missiles that are carried in distinctive deck-mounted launchers. While the Moskva is one of the one of the most powerful warships in the world, designed to attack aircraft-carrier battlegroups, she rendezvoused with the Nottingham, her former Cold War adversary, to train for NATO's Operation Active Endeavor.

NATO established Operation Active Endeavor after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US to monitor and protect the sea lanes of the Mediterranean, through which 30% of the world's maritime traffic passes. In April 2003, NATO authorized an expansion of the mission to include boarding of suspect vessels, in accordance with international law. Over 100 ships have been boarded as of February 2006. In March 2004, NATO extended the area of operations to the entire Mediterranean and invited certain non-NATO nations to participate, including Russia and Ukraine.

Russian sailors and marines were trained aboard the Nottingham, while some UK personnel assigned to the NATO training team embarked with the Moskva. The UK's Royal Navy demonstrated the techniques necessary to professionally undertake the task of boarding merchant ships at sea. Thereafter, the Russians put their training into practice by boarding and searching the Spanish frigate SPS Navarra (F 85), which served in the role of a merchant vessel.

The world's premier navies are finding common cause in areas such as countering terrorism, piracy, and illegal trafficking in drugs, arms, and people. Operation Active Endeavor is demonstrating how naval personnel under different flags, even those of different alliances, can work together. Russian training with the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 will continue through 2006, with the expectation that two Russian Federation ships will become operational with Active Endeavor later this year.

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