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Croatia joining NATO operation Sea Guardian

Croatian Navy missile boat
Croatia defense ministry file photo of RTOP Dubrovnik

A Croatian Navy missile boat will be joining NATO’s Mediterranean mission Sea Guardian this September, according to a Croatian government decision announced on Friday.

Should the decision be accepted by the country’s parliament, this would be the third time the country is contributing assets to this mission. Croatia’s maiden Sea Guardian deployment took place in 2018, when the missile boat Vukovar spent 30 days on operations.

This year’s Sea Guardian is expected to be undertaken by missile boat Dubrovnik, the same boat that supported the mission in 2019. Dubrovnik and its 35 crew are scheduled to spend some 20 days on operations.

Vukovar and Dubrovnik are former Helsinki-class vessels that were operated by the Finnish Navy before being decommissioned and sold to Croatia in 2008.

Croatia’s defense minister Mario Banozic said that the participation of members of the Croatian Armed Forces in the NATO operation would significantly improve the capabilities of the Croatian Navy to carry out missions and tasks.

Launched at 2016 Warsaw summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, operation Sea Guardian is a non-Article 5 maritime security operation aimed at working with Mediterranean stakeholders to maintain maritime situational awareness, deter and counter terrorism and enhance capacity building. The operation is currently led by Turkish Navy Captain Meriç Katipoglu from aboard the TCG Turgutreis frigate.