Setting a Course for Security: MARCOM, an Allied Coordination at Sea initiative from NATO

NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in conjunction with allied nations retain constant and comprehensive awareness of all naval assets in line with NATO’s 360 approach for deterrence and defence. Acting as Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) coordinator, operators assigned to MARCOM’s Current Operations branch coordinate seamlessly with NATO and partner nations to monitor all naval activity, including surface, subsurface and air assets. A recent example of this enduring effort is the monitoring of the Russian Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine Krasnodar.

The submarine, accompanied by its ocean-going tug Sergey Balk, was continuously observed by NATO and allied ships along its entire transit route from the Mediterranean to the Baltic Sea in October 2023. This effort was part of the headquarters’ core tasks to understand the maritime pattern of life in order to deter hostile behaviour and be ready to defend. Often, dispatched air, surface and drone assets are the first ones to spot and report on activity. Performing this enduring task on a regular basis, NATO and Allies work together to protect the waterways and keep the sea safe for the free flow of goods and services, ready to take decisive action if needed to defend allied territory and interests.

“Coordinating this monitoring effort within the air, sea and subsurface domain is an extreme honour. This network of MARCOM and allied MOCs, working as one team to perform these vital tasks showcases our inherent capacity and flexibility” said Icelandic Coast Guard Lt. Hallbjorg Fjeldsted, a member MARCOM’s current operations branch.

These efforts come as NATO and Allies have increased their patrolling presence and stepped up intelligence sharing. Allies have also enhanced common efforts to improve critical undersea and energy infrastructure security by increasing military presence with ships and patrol aircraft. Performing these duties involves comprehensive coordination efforts between MARCOM and allied nation’s Maritime Operations Centres (MOC), whose staffs work around the clock to monitor the maritime environment. MARCOM’s MOC fuses and disseminates the NATO Recognized Maritime Picture (RMP), throughout NATO’s maritime area of interest whilst monitoring global maritime military and non-military activities of interest. MARCOM is the central command of all NATO maritime forces and the MARCOM commander is the primary maritime advisor to the Alliance. Like its land and air counterparts (LANDCOM and AIRCOM), MARCOM supports the Joint Force Commands and stands ready to defend the Alliance and its interests.

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