NATO will retain a long-term naval presence off the Horn of Africa, where its anti-piracy flotilla has been key to the international patrols preventing attacks on merchant shipping in one of the world's busiest sea lanes, ministers said Friday.Russia has already announced it will be sending ships back to the piracy risk area:
The alliance flotilla operating in the region will sail home at the end of the month. But ministers said they decided to dispatch a follow-on force known as Standing Maritime Force 2.
"Permanent groups from NATO are going to continue to be present ... in this complex challenge to eradicate piracy," Spanish Defense Minister Carme Chacon said.
A NATO flotilla has been stationed off Somalia since November. It was joined by an EU squadron, a U.S.-led task force, and ships from a number of other nations including China, India, Malaysia and Russia.
Russia's Pacific Fleet will send a third task force later this month to protect shipping routes from Somali pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden, a fleet commander said on Tuesday.The U.S. will undoubtedly maintain a force in the area, too.
"Preparations are underway, and the task force will be dispatched later this month," said Viktor Sokolov.
The task force consists of a warship with two helicopters, a salvage tug, a tanker, and a naval infantry unit. The previous Pacific Fleet taskforce was led by the Admiral Panteleyev, an Udaloy-class destroyer.