NATO and Industry Work Together to Strengthen Maritime Surveillance

(Image credit: NATO)

On April 16–17, 2024, more than 200 industry representatives and government officials met at NATO Headquarters to address the most pressing challenges in the maritime domain. They reviewed how industry can better support NATO in the use of emerging and disruptive technologies for operational problems.

The Digital Ocean Industry Symposium focused on how to increase NATO’s ability to see, sense and act to better protect sea lines of communication, which are vital for the security of the Euro-Atlantic area. The discussions were part of NATO’s Digital Ocean initiative, which includes the protection of critical undersea infrastructure, using technology to provide persistent maritime surveillance and innovative anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

The Digital Ocean initiative was launched in 2023 to enhance NATO’s maritime situational awareness from seabed to space. It aims to transform Allied maritime domain awareness by improving coordination between national and Allied capabilities employed for maritime surveillance. This includes satellites and autonomous systems that operate below, on, and above the sea.

Technology is key to increasing the capacity of the maritime assets of both Allies and partner, and it can help them work more closely together on common operational problems. By going beyond conventional capabilities and using state-of-the art technology, Allied navies can act in a more timely and cost-effective way to address a wide spectrum of security challenges. This includes the security of shipping lanes, energy pipelines and submarine cables, as well as countering piracy and threats deriving from climate change. Over the past decade NATO has been testing and integrating the latest technological advancements from industries and academia to enhance interoperability through exercises such as REPMUS and Dynamic Messenger.

At the Vilnius Summit in 2023, 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 situational awareness and enhance deterrence and defense. Earlier in 2023, NATO also created a Critical Undersea Infrastructure Coordination Cell at NATO Headquarters in Brussels to improve information sharing and exchange best practices between Allies, partners, and the private sector.

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