On Thursday 3 August EU NAVFOR watchkeepers, who work in the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) within the Operational Headquarters in Northwood, London, ran a counter-piracy exercise to ensure that they remain fully prepared to respond to any piracy incident off the coast of Somalia.
There are EU NAVFOR watchkeepers on watch in the JOC 24 hours a day, seven days a week. One of their key roles is to monitor World Food Programme and international maritime shipping that transit through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. Thousands of ships carrying goods to and from Europe pass through the waters off the Horn of Africa each year and it is imperative that EU NAVFOR staff can respond as quickly as possible to a piracy incident to help keep seafarers safe.
Lieutenant Commander Helmer Kerkhoff from the Royal Netherlands Navy, said of these exercises ‘It is essential to practice the drills that will be needed in a real life event so that everyone is aware of how to react and importantly, who to inform. It is great to see JOC watchkeepers from different nations working together so effectively.”