On Monday, Rear Admiral Antonio Natale, commander of NATO’s counter piracy task force played host to the commander of the Chinese task force, Rear Admiral Li Xiaoyan on board the NATO flagship, ITS San Marco.
The meeting allowed the two Commanders to share their personal assessment of the situation and tactical lessons learned that, after almost four years of activity, have led to a significant lowering of the attacks. The last successful pirate attack was in May 2012.
During the meeting, Rear Admiral Li Xiaoyan summarised his impressions and perspectives after about three months of operations in the Indian Ocean. He stated that; "Less and less merchant vessels are asking to be escorted during their transit through the Gulf of Aden as that the situation is improving. Our task now will be to support the contiguous states, especially Somalia, to enable them to act on the causes and ensure that the problem does not recur when the presence of military units in the area will start to decline".
Stressing the excellent relations between NATO and China, Rear Admiral Natale said, "The cooperation between all the forces at play, and in particular between China and NATO, is crucial to eradicate this crime and restore the dignity of the Somali people for years ravaged by civil wars and illegal activities such as human smuggling for criminal purposes"
Vice Admiral Christian Canova, Deputy Commander at Maritime Command stated that, “it is clear that our collective efforts have seriously disrupted the piracy business model and in so doing we are helping incentivise would-be pirates to look at more licit means of making an income. We have therefore helped to create space for other multinational organisations to begin the work of rebuilding Somalia; but we need to retain our guard at sea.”