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Cablegate: Finland's Participation in Global Maritime

R 131100Z NOV 08


E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 50488

1. SUMMARY: Embassy Helsinki's Global Maritime Partnership
(GMP) (composed of DAO, POL, RSO and chaired by ECON) has
concluded that Finland is already engaged in a number of
voluntary multinational initiatives that fall under the broad
GMP umbrella. Current GOF collaborations range from sea
surveillance to pollution abatement to border security - all
of which could form the basis for additional US-Finnish
cooperation in the GMP context. END SUMMARY

2. The following actions are already underway between Finland
and the US or between Finland and neighboring states and
international partners:


A. Commander of the Finnish Navy, VADM Hans Holmstrom, was
briefed by the US Chief of Naval Operations on the concept of
Global Maritime Partnerships at the US Naval War College in
Spring 2007.

B. Command, US Naval Forces Europe has invited the Commander
of the Finnish Navy, VADM Hans Holmstrom, to participate in
the Initial (IPC), Mid-Term (MPC) and Final Planning
Conferences (FPC) for the US-GMP initiative off the west
coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea known as "African
Partnership Station" (APS). The Finns declined to participate
in the IPC or MPC but will send a representative to the FPC
in November in Stuttgart, Germany.

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C. There have been at least two exchange visits between
Finnish Naval leadership and the Office of the Secretary of
Defense regarding Maritime Domain/Situational Awareness
(MDA/MSA). Finland is considered a "model" to emulate when
it comes to MDA/MSA and, as part of the US National Strategy
for Maritime Security (NSMS), OSD reached out to Finland to
assess Finland's strengths and weaknesses in executing
MDA/MSA. The Finnish Navy, Border Guard, and their Maritime
Administration collaborate to collate one combine maritime
"picture" for total Baltic maritime situational awareness.
The lessons learned during the exchange visits are still
being assessed by OSD and the US Navy and Coast Guard.

E. The Finnish Navy works closely with the Swedish Navy in a
maritime situational awareness effort known as SUCFIS - Sea
Surveillance Cooperation, Finland and Sweden. Both nations
benefit from this effort.

F. A recent study completed by Finland, Norway and Sweden
indicated a number of areas where the interests of all three
nations might benefit from combining resources, standard
operating procedures, etc. That study is known as NORDSUP.
The cooperative engagement between the three nations includes
a number of maritime initiatives, all of which would fall
under the US concept of GMP. Implementation of many of the
maritime-related NORDSUP initiatives will likely begin in

G. Finland's military forces, including naval personnel,
regularly deploy to international peacekeeping operations
around the world. However, no Finnish naval or Coast Guard
vessels have been sent abroad to support international
peacekeeping or crisis operations. Their Navy is not really
configured for such operations; they are a coastal/ Green
Water Navy and their vessels would be challenged to deploy
beyond the Baltic. However, Finnish Navy leadership is
assessing possible venues and operations in which Finnish
Navy vessels might actually be deployed. The key determinant
for future Finnish Navy deployments will be the Finnish
political will to do so, and an agreement to fund such an

H. Finland is building two vessels designed specifically to
address potential oil spills at sea. These vessels will be
commissioned and become part of the active force for the
Finnish Coast Guard within the next few years.

I. In 2006, ADM Collins, Commandant of the US Coast Guard,
visited Finland and met with VADM Jakko Smolander, Commander
of the Finnish Border Guard. ADM Collins has since retired
and VADM Smolander retires in December 2008. However, VADM
Smolander's deputy, MG Kaukanen, and the new US Coast Guard
Commandant, ADM Allen have been in communication via their
respective staffs and USDAO Helsinki to reinvigorate the
pursuit of a number of previously agreed-upon cooperative


A. Finland is a member of the Helsinki Commission, known as
HELCOM, which works to protect the marine environment of the
Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through
intergovernmental cooperation. HELCOM's Baltic Sea Action
Plan aims to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea by 2020. The
Plan has been heralded as a pilot project for other European
seas in context of the proposed EU Marine Strategy Directive.
Additionally, HELCOM provides for a multi-national response
in case of major maritime incidents in the Baltic. Members
include Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Germany,
Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden.

B. Finland participates in a multinational organization
called Northern Dimension, which seeks to enhance cooperation
among its members on issues ranging from economic cooperation
to nuclear safety and the protection of the environment and
natural resources. Under the Northern Dimension
Environmental Partnership, Finland participated in 2005 in
the upgrade of the Southwest Water Treatment Plant in St.
Petersburg, Russia. The improved plant now treats 85% of
wastewater flowing into the Baltic Sea. Additionally,
Finland via Northern Dimension activities assisted with the
modernization of Russian nuclear power plants on the Kola
Peninsula and in the Leningrad region. Northern Dimension
members include Iceland, Russia, Norway and the EU with the
United States and Canada maintaining observer status.

C. In 2004 Russia, Estonia and Finland implemented a joint
mandatory ship reporting system known as Gulf of Finland
Reporting (GOFREP). GOFREP divides the Gulf into three zones
managed by the three partner nations: Southern Sector
(Estonia), Northern Sector (Finland), Eastern Sector
(Russia). All ships over 300GT must identify to GOFREP their
location and cargo before entering a particular sector. The
sector's administrating country then relays this information
to a tri-laterally operated database. As Russia develops its
Baltic Sea ports, traffic in the region has increased, and so
too has the potential for accidents. GOFREP's implementation
has led to an 80% reduction in collisions in the area.

D. According to the GOF, GOFREP will eventually be expanded
to cover the entire Baltic Sea, transforming the system from
traffic surveillance to sophisticated traffic control for the
Baltic. Finland and Sweden currently share much of their
maritime traffic information via Maritime Traffic Imaging -
which provides valuable information for safety, security and
defense cooperation. There is interest in expanding such
information-sharing to neighboring Baltic Sea countries.

E. The GOF is actively in the Development of an EU Baltic
Strategy. Sweden will propose the new strategy in the latter
half of 2009, during their EU presidency. Key subject areas
include: environmental protection of the Baltic, safe sea
traffic, efficient logistics and transport connections,
energy cooperation and internal security. Overall, the
Strategy supports the continued use of existing organizations
such as HELCOM and the Northern Dimension, and the inclusion
of non-EU states in any initiatives.

3. COMMENT: Embassy Helsinki's GMP Working Group has
concluded that the GOF has already been briefed on the GMP
concept, and currently participates in a wide variety of
GMP-type initiatives. The GOF actively seeks additional
partnerships in the GMP context that would improve the safety
and environmental health of the Baltic Sea and beyond. Great
opportunity exists for the US to capitalize on Finland's
involvement and initiative, for example, through sharing and
exporting of 'best practices'. For further information on
military maritime cooperation efforts, contact CDR Jon Olson
in DAO at 358-9-6162-5331, olsonjr@state.gov. For further
information on economic maritime cooperation efforts, contact
EconOff Wendy Kahler at 358-9-6162-5481,
kahlerwa@state.gov.END COMMENT.


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