Are European Navies Ready to Navigate an Ever More Contested Maritime Domain?

Security threats and challenges are multiplying in the maritime domain. Strategic competitors’ fleets are growing in numbers, in tonnage, and in sophistication, and they contest maritime borders as well as international laws and customs applicable to the maritime domain. Long-standing non-state factors, such as piracy, armed robbery at sea, or kidnapping of seafarers, have not disappeared. Faced with these overlapping challenges, European navies are plagued by several issues such as poor availability of assets, lack of combat readiness, aging platforms, fragmentation, and insufficient coordination. This report outlines the main threats and challenges that Europeans face at sea and details the gaps in capabilities before providing recommendations for how to fill those gaps. 

This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the French government, the Norwegian government, the United States Navy, or the United States Department of Defense. 

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Mathieu Droin
Visiting Fellow, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program
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Courtney Stiles Herdt

Courtney Stiles Herdt

Former Military Fellow, International Security Program
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Gabriella Kristine Bolstad

Gabriella Bolstad

Former Stuart Center Visiting Fellow, Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program