Operation Sharp Guard
Operation Sharp Guard was a multi-year joint naval blockade in the
Adriatic Sea by
NATO and the
Western European Union
Western European Union on shipments to
the former Yugoslavia. Warships and maritime patrol
aircraft from 14 countries were involved in searching for and stopping
The operation began on 15 June 1993. It was suspended on 19 June 1996,
and was terminated on 2 October 1996.
3.1 Lido II incident
4 Applicable UN resolutions
5 Ships participating
6 See also
8 External links
The operation replaced naval blockades
Operation Maritime Guard
Operation Maritime Guard (of
NATO; begun by the U.S. in November 1992) and Sharp Fence (of the
WEU). It put them under a single chain of command and control (the
"Adriatic Military Committee", over which the
NATO and WEU Councils
exerted joint control), to address what their respective Councils
viewed as wasteful duplication of effort. Some maintain
that despite the nominal official joint command and control of the
operation, in reality it was
NATO staff that ran the operation.
The operation's purpose was, through a blockade on shipments to the
former Yugoslavia, to enforce economic sanctions and an arms
embargo of weapons and military equipment against the former Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia, and rival factions in Croatia and
Yugoslav Wars were being waged, and the
participants hoped to limit the fighting by limiting supplies to it.
Fourteen nations contributed ships and patrol aircraft to the
operation. At any given time, 22 ships and 8 aircraft were enforcing
the blockade, with ships from
Standing Naval Force Atlantic
Standing Naval Force Atlantic and
Standing Naval Force Mediterranean
Standing Naval Force Mediterranean establishing a rotating duty.
(Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the
Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the U.K., and the
U.S.), and eight maritime patrol aircraft, were involved in
searching for and stopping blockade runners.
Most contributors to the operation supplied one or two ships. The
Turkish Navy, for example, participated with frigates, submarines, and
The operational area was divided into a series of "sea boxes", each
the responsibility of a single warship. Each boarding team was
composed of a "guard team" to board and wrest control of the target
ship, and a "search team", to conduct the search.
The ships were authorized to board, inspect, and seize both ships
seeking to break the blockade and their cargo. The Combined Task
Force 440 was commanded by Admiral Mario Angeli of Italy. It marked
the first time since its founding in 1949 that
NATO was involved in
Lido II incident
Type 22 frigate
Type 22 frigate HMS Chatham
The issue of differing views among nations in the coalition as to the
use of force authorized by rules of engagement arose in April
1994. Faced with the Maltese tanker Lido II making its way towards
Montenegrin port with 45,000 tons of fuel oil, an American cruiser
(USS Philippine Sea) asked the
NATO commander (a British Commodore)
for guidance, and received authorization to use "disabling fire" to
stop the tanker, if necessary. He received confirmation that he
should follow the British commodore's guidance from his own higher
authority. Under U.S. Navy standards, "disabling fire" means
firing rounds into the ship's engineering space. The U.S. cruiser was
about to pass the order along to the Dutch Kortenaer-class frigate
HMNLS Van Kinsbergen. However, the fact that the Dutch definition of
"disabling fire" involves launching rounds into the bridge of the
target ship, with an increased risk of loss of life, became
important. The ship was boarded by Dutch Marines inserted by
helicopter from HMNLS Van Kinsbergen and eventually stopped without
firing a shot on the first of May. Three Yugoslav Navy
Končar-class corvettes challenged the
NATO operation and one of them
tried to ram the British frigate HMS Chatham as it was assisting
Van Kinsberger. The corvettes eventually fled following the reaction
of the British warship, supported by Italian Tornado aircraft which
scrambled from an airbase at Gioia Del Colle. Lido II had to undergo
repairs before being diverted to Italy, since the crew had sabotaged
the ship's engine room. The leaking was contained by an engineer party
from HMS Chatham. Seven Yugoslav stowaways were found on
NATO and WEU forces challenged more than 73,000 ships, boarded
and inspected almost 6,000 at sea, and diverted 1,500 suspect ships to
ports for further inspection." Of those, nearly a dozen
vessels were found to be blockade runners, some carrying arms in
violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
said no ships were able to run the blockade successfully, and that the
maritime blockade had a major effect in preventing escalation of the
The blockade was suspended following a UN decision to end the arms
embargo, and NATO's Southern Command said that: "
NATO and WEU ships
will no longer challenge, board or divert ships in the Adriatic".
The Independent warned at the time that "In theory, there could now be
a massive influx of arms to Bosnia, Croatia and the Federal Republic
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), although senior military and
diplomatic sources yesterday said that they thought this would be
Applicable UN resolutions
The blockade was conducted in accordance with numerous United Nations
Security Council Resolutions: UNSCR 713, UNSCR 757, UNSCR
787 UNSCR 820, and UNSCR 943. Resolution 787 authorized
participating states to "use such measures ... as may be necessary ...
to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping ... to insure strict
implementation of" the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the
former Yugoslavia. Over the course of the operation, the blockade
was redefined in accordance with UNSCR 1021 and UNSCR 1022.
Canadian Forces Maritime Command:
HMCS Ville de Quebec
Royal Danish Navy:
HMDS Niels Juel
Quartier Maitre Anquetil
Luigi Durand de la Penne
Royal Netherlands Navy:
HNLMS Jacob van Heemskerk
HNLMS Jan van Brakel
HNLMS Karel Doorman F827
HNLMS Abrham van der Hulst F832
HNLMS Philips van Almonde
HNLMS Piet Heyn
HNLMS Pieter Florisz
HNLMS Van Kinsbergen
NRP Vasco da Gama
USS Arthur W. Radford
USS Cape St. George
USS Comte de Grasse
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
USS John Rodgers
USS Josephus Daniels
USS Samuel B. Roberts
USS South Carolina
USS Theodore Roosevelt
United Nations portal
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Wikisource has original text related to this article:
United Nations Security Council Resolutions
Wikimedia Commons has media related to United Nations resolutions.
Security Council resolutions
UN Security Council Official Website, including all resolutions
NATO Regional HQ Allied Forces Southern Europe Fact Sheet on Operation
Update on Operation Sharp Guard, December 1995
General Framework Agreement
"Evolution of the Conflict",
NATO Handbook, December 18, 2002
"Operation Sharp Guard: the sea embargo of Serbia and Montenegro",
Barberan, J. F., Revista de Aeronáutica y Astronáutica, no. 727,