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Means of the arms embargo operation “Unified Protector” (Maj5)

ETNA will be the (Italian) flagship of Operation Unified Protector (credit: Eunavfor / Italian Navy, March 2010)

(BRUSSELS2) The NATO operation to control the arms and munitions embargo against Libya will include several maritime patrol ships and aircraft. The operation should above all be led by Italy and Turkey, which announced significant contributions during the force generation conference. On the other hand, we should not count on Germany which has withdrawn all its forces from the Mediterranean (read: The Bundeswehr is fine, it's coming...).

The second international operation against Libya

This operation is the second by the international community after the “no fly zone” and “protection of civilians” operation carried out mainly by the Franco-British-American coalition. It only aims to enforce the arms embargo (as provided for in §13 et seq. of UN Security Council Resolution 1973).

The NATO chain of command

Named “Unified Protector", this operation will be entirely designed, supported and ordered at the level of the Atlantic Alliance. That is, with political control by NAC ambassadors and the integrated NATO chain of command. The chain of command should therefore involve the Shape (with SACEUR, Admiral Stavridis at its head) such as the Allied Maritim Command in Naples (commanded by Italian Vice-Admiral Rinaldo Veri), where the headquarters of the operation, and the embarked FHQ which should be on an Italian command ship (the Etna). As in any Alliance operation, however, the means remain national, and each State is free to set rules of engagement. Just as the operation commander is free to accept or not his means with the caveats related.

Resources committed (updated March 30)

According to the last elements communicated by NATO, 18 machines should constitute the control fleet coming from 8 country: 1 command ship, 11 frigates and aircraft carriers, 4 minehunters and patrol boat, 1 auxiliary and support vessel and 2 submarines. Here is the detail of the means now official (as of March 30, 2011)

Belgium. The mine hunter SNB Narcis (M-923).

Canada. An HMCS frigate Charlottetown (FFH 339). Two Aurora CP-140 maritime surveillance aircraft, based in Sigonella (Sicily – Italy).

Spain. The frigate Mendez Nunez (F-104), based in Ferrol, the submarine Tramontana (S-74), based in Cartagena, and a CN-235 maritime surveillance aircraft.

Greece. A frigate HS Limnos (F-451) (Nb: ex Dutch ship Witte de With, F-813)

Italy. The aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (551) – equipped with 4 vertical take-off aircraft AB 8B Harrier II -, the frigate Libeccio (F-572), the supply ship Etna (A-5326) – which will serve as flagship as it did in the EU anti-piracy operation in the first quarter of 2010 –, the patrol Commander Bettica (P-492).

(Credit: Dutch Navy)

Netherlands. The mine hunter HMNLS Haarlem (M-853). This ship could be used – explained its commander Wilbert van Gemeren – also “to clear mines that Libya could use against the coalition. The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) has specifically requested that this capability be included in the mission.”

United Kingdom. A frigate HMS Cumberland (F-85) which participated from the start in operations in Libya, starting with the evacuation operations of European nationals, in particular by making several rotations between Benghazi and Malta, as well as a mine hunter, the HMS Brocklesby (M33) .

Turkey. 4 frigates — TCG Gaziantep (F-491), TCG Gelibolu (F-493), TCG Yıldırım (F-243), TCG Gemlik (F-492) and one submarine — TCG Preveze (S-353).

NATO. An Awacs surveillance plane.

NB (update details): The frigate announced by the United States in the first list provided by NATO is not included in this final list. And it is not the Garibaldi but the Etna which will serve as flagship (it is more qualified for this task). The naming of ships supplied by Turkey has changed slightly compared to the first list of the Turkish Navy (change of names of two frigates and no supply ship). Both Romania and Bulgaria had also offered a ship — respectively the frigate “Ferdinand Regele” (F-221) with 205 men and the Drazki (ex Belgian navy ship, Wandelaar F912) with 160 men – but which were not included in the list provided by NATO after the force generation conference (financing questions seemed to arise).

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Last. update: April 2

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).