BY PHILIP MWAKIO
A naval warship belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), which is part of allied forces combating piracy off the Horn of Africa, is expected to dock at the port of Mombasa on Labour Day.
ITS San Marco is part of the Nato Forces currently in Operation Ocean Shield alongside two other vessels, TCG Gokova (Turkey) and USS Nicholas of the United States of America Navy. A communiqué from Nato’s Allied Maritime Command Public Affairs Officer Lt Gwenn Laine dated April 26 says the warship, which also serves as Nato Forces flagship, ITS San Marco (contributed by the Italian Navy) will be in Kenyan waters for one week.
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During its stay at the port, Italian ambassador to Kenya Paola Imperiale will join Rear Admiral Antonio Natale to meet civilians and Kenyan Government officials and make donations to local charities. And Commander of the Nato taskforce Natale will host a media briefing where he will field questions from invited journalists on May 4.
“It will be an opportunity for Natale to engage with Kenyan and international media on Nato’s mission to counter piracy in the Indian Ocean,’’ Lt Laine stated.
A tour will take place at sea on May 5 with ITS San Marco departing port with journalists on board. They will be transferred back to Mombasa by helicopter later in the afternoon. Nato is a key player in the collective endeavor of the international community to protect waterways in the Indian Ocean, counter maritime piracy and develop capacity building programmes with governments.
“Nato is acting under a United Nations mandate and its efforts have contributed significantly to the considerable drop in piracy off the coast of Eastern Africa,” Lt Laine said.
He said instances of piracy were at the lowest levels seen in 5 years and are down by 35 per cent todate in 2013.
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