NATO has historically maintained a presence in the Mediterranean and will continue to do so as we work with our partner nations to help ensure a prosperous maritime environment and foster strong relationships. In support of this mission, the permanently manned NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) is the primary point of contact for the exchange of merchant shipping information between NATO's military authorities and the international shipping community.
In light of the above, commercial shipping relies on the principle of freedom of movement on the high seas to conduct its day to day business. Maritime trade is a fundamental strategic interest to nations dependent on freedom of movement on the seas and their economic well-being. Military operations at sea will frequently involve, or have some impact, on merchant shipping and likewise, merchant shipping may affect military operations.
In order to both reduce conflict of interest between military and merchant shipping and to enhance safety and security at sea, NATO developed and implemented the concept of Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping (NCAGS). NCAGS is the provision of cooperation, guidance, advice and assistance to merchant shipping to enhance the safety and security of merchant ships in the vicinity of military activities like counter piracy or other military operations.
In conjunction with the above and as a supportive service of the NSC, NATO has conducted the counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR continuously in the Mediterranean since 2001. The mandate of Operation Active Endeavour remains unchanged to conduct maritime operations in Mediterranean Sea to demonstrate NATO's resolve to help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorism. Reducing the threat of terrorist attack requires constant vigilance on the part of the Alliance.
Additionally, and with support from the NSC, NATO conducts Operation OCEAN SHIELD, NATO’s counter piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa.
Finally, NATO is currently executing Exercise NOBLE JUSTIFICATION 2014 from 14—26 October 2014 around the Strait of Gibraltar. One of the objectives is to exercise co-operation with merchant shipping and vessels are invited to participate on a no-cost/no-delay basis. Further information is found in NAVAREA III WARNING 410/14 and on www.shipping.nato.int.