The assets dedicated to Joint Operation Hermes Extension continue to increase, although at present there are only two coastal patrol boats (Italian) participating in the Frontex mission. Ten surveillance aircraft will soon be deployed. See the table with the list of resources below.
While the naval assets dedicated to JO Hermes Extension are minimal, there is a growing number of EU and NATO naval ships in the Central Mediterranean. Nicolas Gros-Verheyde (writing on the Bruxelles2 blog (FR)) has counted 14 naval ships from EU states that are present in the waters near Libya; the ships consist of destroyers, frigates, electronic surveillance ships, and supply and support ships. Additionally, Turkey has two naval ships in the area.
Some of the naval ships have already been used to evacuate European and other non-Libyan nationals from Libya. What additional activity the EU ships may engage in remains to be seen. They may become involved in military activities (presumably with UN authority (?)) and/or they may play a yet undetermined role should there be a sudden flow of migrants and asylum seekers from Libya. If there is a sudden and significant migratory flow, the naval ships should function in a search and rescue manner, but there is always the possibility that if faced with large numbers of migrants, the navy vessels may be used to interdict, blockade, or otherwise to try to prevent migrants from leaving Libya.
Click here for link to Frontex update regarding deployed assets.
Table: Resources available to JO Hermes Extension 2011 as of February 25, 2011.
|Italy (HMS)||2 Coastal Patrol Vessel, 1 aircraft, 5 experts, 2 cultural mediators|
|France||10 experts, 1 aircraft|
|Germany||2 experts, 2 aircrafts|
|the Netherlands||1 aircraft, 2 experts|
|Portugal||7 experts, 1 aircraft|
|Spain||4 experts, 1 aircraft (at a later stage)|