Passing the baton. On Wednesday, aboard the amphibious ship San Giorgio moored at the Mar Grande Naval Station in Taranto, Rear Admiral Riccardo Marchiò handed over the post of tactical Commander of Operation “Mediterraneo Sicuro” (Safe Mediterranean) to Rear Admiral Stefano Frumento. The ceremony was presided over by the Commander-in-Chief of the Naval Squadron, Admiral Aurelio De Carolis.
Watch out for Russia. The Kremlin’s naval units have repeatedly been spotted in Mediterranean waters over the past months. “The Russians are there, so it is up to us to watch the Mediterranean and closely monitor these ships,” noted Admiral De Carolis, remarking on the high strategic value conveyed by the Alliance’s messaging.
- He also highlighted that the Italian Navy “[moves] in a fully synergistic context with the other Allied Navies operating in the Mediterranean and with all those other operations – the European Union’s, NATO’s Operation Irini, Operation Sea Guardian and the even more important one that goes by the name of Nobel Shield.”
- The latter entails a US aircraft carrier, the Bush, permanently stationed in the Med along with its group.
Italy’s eyes on the Med. The Atlantic Alliance has been playing Italian-led naval war games to enhance combat readiness in the area. And it recently chose the Southern Italian city of Taranto as headquarters for its Southern Maritime Command, which will focus on the Alliance’s Southern Flank – essentially, the Mediterranean region.
- The Command is expected to achieve initial operational capability within the next year. It will be headed by an Italian Rear Admiral and will be capable of hosting allied assets.
Securing the Med. Operation Mediterraneo Sicuro is an example of Italy’s commitment to sea security. It provides for the deployment of aerial and naval units that ensure presence and surveillance activities in the central and eastern Mediterranean to protect Italy’s national interests as well as maritime and energy security.
- It also carries out maritime surveillance of areas of national interest, with a focus on monitoring energy supply and telecommunications infrastructure, ensuring the security of national offshore platforms and industry operators.