Forcat Detare - Naval Forces (NF)
Navy Forces have as their mission the defense of the integrity of the maritime territory of the Republic of Albania in cooperation with Land Forces, Air Forces and Supporting Commands, as well as law enforcement at sea. Naval Forces carry out defensive joint operations with other Services, tasks related to the Coastguard Law, Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in cooperation with the SAR service of the Armed Forces within their zone of responsibility, as well as the conduct of humanitarian operations and participation in anti terrorism operations at sea.
The Republic of Albania, with a coastline of 362 kilometers and a strategic maritime position linking the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, the Strait of Otranto, and the Mediterranean Sea, brings opportunities for maritime trade development, tourism, fisheries, etc., but also brings threats of terrorist acts, and illegal trafficking of drugs, human beings, and goods.
The Concept of Operations determines how Naval Forces will be organized, equipped and trained to attain the operational readiness and rapid reaction to accomplish the tasks of defending the integrity of maritime territory. It provides the baseline for Navy Force employment in carrying out their mission. Principles of the Concept of Operations include: responsiveness to the interests of the Republic of Albania at sea, improving operational capabilities, creating an information system for maritime space, preparing for military and non-military operations, and increasing cooperation with Republic of Albania institutions, with other forces externally in the framework of bilateral and multilateral agreements, and with NATO forces.
This concept is based on continuous rotational forward deployments of patrol boats from the two Main Operating Bases to the four Supporting Operating Bases, providing at any time a minimum of four Ready Boats out of bases. The Navy Development Plan provides the overall framework for transformation and modernization of the force, as a plan for their integration to achieve required standards.
To carry out their mission, Naval Forces accomplish the following tasks:
- Maritime Coastal Surveillance. Provision of awareness and surveillance of waters and the coast, as well as monitoring and controlling navigation within territorial waters.
- Defense Readiness. Ensuring rapid reaction to encroachments in the territorial waters of the Republic of Albania, in cooperation with Land Forces and Air Forces.
- Search and Rescue. Conducting and organizing SAR operations within the territorial waters of the Republic of Albania.
- Interdiction of Trafficking. Interdiction of illegal migrants, drugs, and goods, through operations for law enforcement at sea.
- Marine Environmental Protection. Interdiction and response to incidents of maritime environmental pollution in Albanian territorial waters and along the coast line.
- Marine Navigation Safety. Hydrographs and aids to navigation marine safety, and shipping inspection/documentation.
- Peacetime Security Cooperation Operations will be: Joint, Bilateral, Multilateral, as well as operations in the framework of NATO/Pfp, A-3 and EU.
The Navy Force is composed of: Naval Headquarters Command and Staff; two Naval Districts; Logistics Battalion (maintenance and repair); sea surveillance unit; a shipyard for maintenance; and other supporting elements. Main locations of the Navy are concentrated in the regions of Durres and Vlora. Naval Forces operate out of two Main Operating Bases, Bishti-i-Palles in Durres and Pashaliman in Vlora, and four Supporting and Reserve Operating Bases respectively in Shengjin, Palermo, Saranda and Sazan. Supporting elements include the shipyard maintenance facilities, the Troop School, a logistics battalion and the Navy Hydrographic Service.
One of the largest problems is equipment - both the lack thereof and the age of the equipment they do have. To this end, the MoD planned as of 2008 several high-profile procurements, including four patrol boats for the navy and up to 17 multipurpose helicopters for the air brigade, although both projects have seen several delays.
Albania's ports on the Adriatic and porous land borders make it an attractive stop on the smuggling route for traffickers moving shipments into Western Europe, due in part to counter-narcotic measures that are under-financed, poorly managed and law enforcement officials who are corrupt and inadequately equipped. Marijuana is produced domestically for markets in Europe, the largest being Italy and Greece. While the majority of drugs has historically been smuggled across the Adriatic Sea, Albania's recent more aggressive policies and enhanced policing of its coast have redirected some trafficking over land borders with Kosovo and Montenegro for transit into Serbia and Bosnia.
A 2005 Moratorium outlawing speedboats and several other varieties of water vessels on all of Albania's territorial coastal waters was scheduled to expire in early 2009, but the Ministry of Interior has commanded its forces to continue to enforce the ban until Parliament specifically repeals it. The moratorium has slowed the movement of drugs and trafficking in persons by smaller waterborne vessels, particularly to Italy. In January 2009, Lockheed Martin completed installation of a seven-radar sea-surveillance system which provides the Albanian Ministries of Defense and Interior a complete real-time picture of their entire sea border. In 2009 the Albanian Coast Guard/Navy received a 143-foot Damen patrol vessel from the Netherlands and later would receive four more for the purpose of combating smuggling off of Albania's coasts. As a result of these measures, the preferred route by traffickers now appears to be through Serbia and Bosnia and then on to Italy.
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