NATO Establishes Hub to Protect Critical Undersea Infrastructure

NATO has inaugurated a specialized center focused on the security of extensive undersea energy pipelines and cables, crucial for global communications, energy supply, and economic stability, yet vulnerable to attacks.

The newly established NATO Maritime Centre for the Security of Critical Undersea Infrastructure (CUI) is based at NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in Northwood, UK. Achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC), the center serves as a networking and knowledge hub supporting Commander MARCOM in decision-making, force deployment, and action coordination.

Royal Navy Vice Admiral Mike Utley, Commander MARCOM, stated: “Securing CUI involves more than posturing to deter future aggression; it includes robust coordination to actively monitor and counter malign or hybrid threats, denying any aggressor the cover of ‘plausible deniability.’

“Through the wide networks we are establishing in the new center, that job will become much easier to achieve. And if, in the future, nations seek NATO assistance, we will be ready to help them using our networks and data.”

The center functions as the operational hub at MARCOM, while a strategic hub is located at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. This dual-hub structure aims to enhance cooperation between NATO allies, partners, and the private sector. The importance of civilian stakeholder engagement was highlighted by the Norwegian Oil Industry, which expressed its support in a joint statement along with Offshore Norge, gas transport operator Gassco AS, and energy company Equinor ASA.

“It’s been a year of strong teamwork defining and establishing the center here at MARCOM, and we are now seeing the results as we reach this important milestone,” said Danish Navy Captain Niels Markussen, Director of the NATO Shipping Centre.

“We’ve overcome many challenges to get here. Strong cooperation from cross-functional areas across MARCOM has been key to success, including operations, intelligence, IT, and Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC). We’ve also worked tirelessly with other NATO entities including NATO HQ, SHAPE, SACT, and CMRE, as well as many civilian organizations.”

Allies first agreed to establish a Maritime Centre for the Security of Critical Undersea Infrastructure within NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) at the Vilnius Summit last year, a decision reinforced by Defence Ministers in February.

Luke Simmonds

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