NATO Navies (including Portuguese) concerned about risk of attacks on underwater infrastructure

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Gouveia e Melo admits that the apprehension results from the current context of war in Ukraine, recalling the explosions that damaged the gas pipelines off Sweden and Denmark
The navies of several NATO countries, including Portugal, have assessed the risks of new attacks on underwater infrastructure, admitting their concern at the underwater capabilities of their adversaries, Admiral Gouveia e Melo told Lusa.

This threat was addressed at a meeting in London this week of the heads of navies of the Channel Committee (CHANCOM) formed by countries near the English Channel that are part of the Atlantic Alliance, the Navy Chief of Staff told the Lusa Agency.

“There are concerns about infrastructure, because there has already been an attack on underwater infrastructure,” he recalled, alluding to the explosions that damaged gas pipelines off Sweden and Denmark, admitting that the apprehension is a result of the current context of war in Ukraine.

Explosions, off Denmark and Sweden, destroyed in September last year segments of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, which connected Russia to Germany, although they were inactive.

The hypothesis of sabotage was favored by the Danish, German, and Swedish judicial authorities, which launched an investigation, but the Russian Federation denied being at the origin of the incident.

Gouveia e Melo told Lusa there are “concerns that have to do with the underwater capabilities of the adversaries” and concerns about the need for NATO members to be “in a position to at least control activities to avoid escalation.

In addition to underwater gas or oil pipelines, infrastructure such as underwater electrical and telecommunication cables and wind towers or offshore oil or gas exploration platforms are concerned.

“What we want is that, through the maritime space, an imbalance unfavorable to the West is not created, since the maritime space is the engine of the international economy,” he stressed.

CHANCOM is a NATO advisory body composed of the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, of which Portugal, Italy and Spain are observers.

These countries represent the sea areas through which shipping has to transit between the North Sea (North Atlantic), South Atlantic, and Mediterranean Sea.

The group holds annual meetings between the leaders of the respective navies, with the location alternating among the members.

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