KRAKOW, Poland, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- NATO defense ministers have agreed to carry out another anti-piracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer announced on Thursday.
"You can expect to see another, what we call, Standing NATO Maritime Group off the coast of Somalia in the coming months, contributing to the overall international (anti-piracy) effort," he told a press conference at the NATO defense ministers' meeting.
He said, however, details of the operation remain to be worked out. The ships will be from the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, which consists of six warships, he said.
NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said the NATO anti-piracy mission will be carried out during the group's trip to the Indian Ocean, in the coming months. The group, as well as another group of standing maritime assets, make port visits in various parts of the world and hold joint exercises with navies of NATO member states or partner countries to test interoperability.
De Hoop Scheffer said piracy may go up off the Somali coast as the Mansoon season is coming to the end. He said the NATO mission will not compete with other similar operations in this area. "It is an enormous stretch of water and the ships are not in each other's way," he said.
NATO carried out its first anti-piracy mission off Somalia between October and December 2008. Four NATO warships were deployed, resulting in the safe delivery of 30,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Somalia by the World Food Program. The NATO vessels also conducted deterrence patrols in the area most susceptible to criminal acts against merchant shipping.
Currently, the European Union is having a massive 12-month naval operation off the coast of Somalia, together with anti-piracy efforts by individual countries such as Russia, China and India.