NATO and Allies are stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea following recent damage to undersea infrastructure in the region. The increased measures include additional surveillance and reconnaissance flights, including with maritime patrol aircraft, NATO AWACS planes, and drones. A fleet of four NATO minehunters is also being dispatched to the area. Since the Nord Stream sabotage in September 2022, NATO has enhanced patrols near critical undersea infrastructure and has promoted technological innovation – including with drones – to better detect any suspicious activity.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely, and we remain in close contact with our Allies Estonia and Finland, and our partner Sweden,” said acting NATO spokesperson Dylan White. “NATO will continue to adapt its maritime posture in the Baltic Sea and will take all necessary steps to keep Allies safe.”
NATO is already stepping up to better address maritime threats. At the Vilnius Summit, NATO leaders agreed to establish NATO’s Maritime Centre for the Security of Critical Undersea Infrastructure within NATO’s Maritime Command (MARCOM) in the United Kingdom, to increase our situational awareness and enhance deterrence and defence in the maritime domain. Earlier this year, NATO created a Critical Undersea Infrastructure Coordination Cell at NATO Headquarters in Brussels to improve information sharing and exchange best practices between NATO Allies, partners, and the private sector.
On 12 October 2023 NATO Defence Ministers and the Swedish Defence Minister endorsed the Digital Ocean Vision, a pioneering initiative to enhance NATO’s maritime situational awareness from seabed to space. This includes a broad range of assets from satellites to autonomous systems below, on, and above the sea. The Digital Ocean Vision initiative will further enhance maritime situational awareness for the security of critical undersea infrastructure. As a next step, NATO Allies will develop a roadmap to guide the future development of maritime capabilities in line with other efforts across the Alliance, including NATO’s Digital Transformation and the Defence Production Action Plan.