Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 In Casablanca

Turkish frigate F-246 TCG Salihreis entering Port of Casablanca as port of SNMG-2

Turkish frigate F-246 TCG Salihreis entering Port of Casablanca as port of SNMG-2. Photo: NATO/HQ MARCOM

On 19 October 2013, three NATO ships F-101 ESPS Alvaro De Bazan, F-219 FGS Sachsen and F-246 TCG Salihreis assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) arrived in Casablanca for a scheduled port visit.

During the visit, the NATO forces will exercise together with the Moroccan Navy, conducting personnel exchange visits in port. The port visit will also mark a welcome break for the crew of SNMG2, which has been operating at a very high tempo during the past few weeks.

In addition to supporting the counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (OAE), the Group has just completed participation in the major maritime exercise BRILLIANT MARINER, a multinational force of 21 ships and submarines that worked together to ‘stress test’ the crisis reaction capabilities of the NATO Response Force (NRF). Upon departing Casablanca, SNMG2 will return to the Mediterranean to resume support to OAE, actively deterring threats to maritime security and trade.

TCG Oruçreis In Toulon

F-245 TCG Oruçreis

F-245 TCG Oruçreis

NATO’s Maritime Capability Group 1 on Above Water Engagement conducted naval electronic warfare trials in Toulon, France between 30 September and 4 October 2013.

4 vessels and measuring/simulator systems from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Turkey took part. The MEKO 200 Track IIA class frigate F-245 TCG Oruçreis was the Turkish participant to these trials. 

 

The Participants Of Brilliant Mariner 2013

One of the NATO’s largest exercise Brilliant Mariner 2013 is continuing in the Mediterranean.

The exercise, which will end on 6 October 2013, will take place in the Tyrrhenian Sea between Sicily and Sardinia.

Over five thousand military and naval personnel from 12 NATO nations comprising Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany , Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate in this major annual exercise.

25 warships, including one aircraft carrier, 12 frigates, one amphibious warfare ship, one auxiliary ship and 7 mines countermeasures vessels will be involved, alongside a wide variety of aircraft, submarines and embarked marines. Two submarines and a Maritime Patrol Aircraft will also take part.

I was able to compile the most of the participating ships with the help of Russian radio scanners:

Number Name Type Country
C-550 ITS Cavour Aircraft Carrier Italy
D-554 ITS Caio Duilio Destroyer Italy
D-561 ITS Francesco Mimbelli Destroyer Italy
F-571 ITS Grecale Frigate Italy
F-574 ITS Aliseo Frigate Italy
F-576 ITS Espero Frigate Italy
F-557 ITS Fenice Corvette Italy
P-490 ITS Comandante Cigala Fulgosi OPV Italy
P-493 ITS Comandante Foscari OPV Italy
L-9893 ITS San Marco LPD Italy
A-5327 ITS Stromboli Tanker Italy
F-103 ESPS Blas De Lezo Frigate Spain
F-246 TCG Salihreis Frigate Turkey
F-219 FGS Sachsen Frigate Germany
F-218 FGS Meclenburg- Vorpommern Frigate Germany
S-522 ITS Salvatore Pelosi Submarine Italy
S-358 TCG Çanakkale Submarine Turkey
A-512 FGS Mosel Tender Germany
M-1061 FGS Rottweil Mine hunter Germany
M-264 TCG Erdemli Mine hunter Turkey
5558 ITS Crotone Mine hunter Italy
5552 ITS Milazzo Mine hunter Italy

Any additions and corrections are most welcome.

Brilliant Mariner 2013

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The map of the exercise area of the Brilliant Mariner 2013. Photo: Mamadu from radioscanner.ru

Between 26 September and 6 October 2013, a large fleet of warships from NATO’s Response Force (NRF) and from other task forces will take part in Brilliant Mariner 2013 maritime exercise in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Turkish Navy F-246 the frigate TCG Salihreis, the mine hunter M-264 TCG Erdemli and the submarine S-358 TCG Çanakkale are going to take part in this exercise.

TCG Salihreis is the Turkish contribution to the NATO’s SNMG-2 task force and TCG Erdemli is part of the NATO’s SNMCMG-2. This means that the Gür class submarine TCG Çanakkale, is the only Turkish national participant to the exercise.

 

 

NATO SNMCMG-2 In The Black Sea

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The German tender A-512 FGS Mosel. The flagship of NATO SNMCMG-2.

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M-264 TCG Erdemli. The Turkish contribution to SNMCMG-2.

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M-1061 FGS Rottweil. The German contribution to SNMCMG-2.

Two German and one Turkish warship created a were in Istanbul for the weekend.

The three ships of the NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2, A-512 FGS Mosel, M-264 TCG Erdemli, and M-1061 FGS Rottweil, arrived in Istanbul on 23 August 2013 Friday and left on 26 August 2013.

According to the official web page of SNMCMG-2 there should be a fourth ship: HMS Ledbury, but she was not is Istanbul. NATO is notoriously bad at updating these pages.

The task force is currently in the Black Sea. I would appreciate any information about their destination.

SNMG-2 Press Conference On Board SPS Blas De Lezo

From left to right: Commander Levent Bingöl , Rear Admiral Eugenio Diaz Del Rio, Commander Fernando Alvarez Blanco

On 24 July 2013 late afternoon NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2) arrived in Istanbul.

The group was in the Black Sea since 5 July and visited Bulgaria, and Ukraine and conducted training with Bulgarian and Romanian naval units.

Currently, SNMG-2 consists of the Spanish frigate F-103 SPS Blas De Lezo and Turkish frigate F-246 TCG Salihreis

I was invited to the press conference on board of SPS Blas De Lezo on 25 July 2013. It was my third visit of a Spanish warship but my first press conference so it was quite an interesting event.

Rear Admiral Eugenio Diaz Del Rio is the current commander of the Maritime Group 2, for a period of a year starting June 15th 2013.
He, with the commander of the SPS Blas De Lezo Commander Fernando Alvarez Blanco and the commander of TCG Salihreis Commander Levent Bingöl answered the question of the press.

Real Admiral Diaz Del Rio explained that there will two different stages during his command. In the first stage SNMG-2 will remain mainly in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea and will support NATO’s Operation Active Endevour and take part in naval exercises Doğu Akdeniz organized by Turkish Navy, Briliant Mariner/Mare Aperto by Italy or Naias by Greece.

In the second stage in 2014 will relived SNMG-1 in the Gulf of Aden and will take the responsibly of the NATO’s anti-piracy operation Ocean Shield for the first 6 months.

He also told that the current composition of SNMG is going to change in late August as more warships will join the group.

Upon my question how he would elaborate this the Black Sea cruise of the SNMG-2 he told that being in the Black sea was interesting as a member of the Spanish Navy he did not had many opportunities to be there. The training of SNMG-2 with the Bulgarian and Romanian naval units was in his opinion very good and helped these NATO navies in gaining the experiences other older NATO navies already have.

Real Admiral Diaz Del Rio compared this force to the fire fighters and said “We must always be ready for any kind of situation emerging in our area. We do not have luxury of saying we need 24 hours to be ready”

He also praised the support of Turkish Navy. SNMG-2 was refueled by Turkish oiler 3 times when it was in the Black Sea. Real Admiral Diaz Del Rio informed that during his tour as Staff Operations Officer at NATO’S Standing Naval Force in the Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED) in 2000 he was stationed on board of a Turkish ship and had a very good working relations with Turkish Navy.

The admiral answered my question whether a plan at NATO level or at national level for Spain existed to position AEGIS platforms such as the frigate Blas De Lezo on the Black Sea, to support NATO initiative to provide a BMD for Europe by saying that NATO was to provide command and control for the BMD system components and every participating nation was going to provide their equipment accordingly.

Upon a question how it feels to have an admiral and his staff on board the commander of the SPS Blas De Lezo Commander Fernando Alvarez Blanco said that Real Admiral Diaz Del Rio, was his boss in their previous tenure and they have been working together for a long time.

Commander Blanco also told that Turkish delegations have visited the frigate and they have been extensively briefed about the working of the AEGIS system. He also told us that the AEGIS system was working well in coastal/littoral Sea such as the Mediterranean or the Black Sea especially if you have a previous knowledge of the area and the expected threads.

SNMG-2 In Bosphorus

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Turkish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2, F-246 TCG Salihreis on her way to Bulgaria. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Turkish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2, F-246 TCG Salihreis on her way to Bulgaria. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Spanish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2, F-103 Blas De Lezo on her way to Bulgaria. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Spanish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2, F-103 Blas De Lezo on her way to Bulgaria. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Spanish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2, F-103 Blas De Lezo on her way to Bulgaria. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Spanish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2, F-103 Blas De Lezo on her way to Bulgaria. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

SNMG-2 Command Handover Ceremony In Aksaz

The ships of  NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) are in Aksaz Naval Base, in Turkey for the Command hand over ceremony.

The Italian LPD, L-9893 ITS San Marco was the flagship of SNMG-2 for the last 6 months when the task force was conducting anti piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The Spanish Navy has now the command of the SNMG-2 till the end of 2013. The Spanish Alvaro De Bazan class frigate F-103 SPS Blas De Lezo is the new flagship. The current composition of the SNMG-2 consists of SPS Blas De Lezo and F-246 TCG Salihreis.

This is the official NATO announcement about the hand over ceremony:

Rear Admiral Antonio Natale, Italian Navy, handed over command of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) today to Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz Del Río, Spanish Navy, concluding a very successful six-month NATO deployment. The ceremony, presided over by Vice Admiral Peter Hudson, NATO’s Maritime Commander, took place at the Aksaz Naval base in Turkey.

Admiral Natale and the international NATO staff embarked on board ITS SAN MARCO took command of SNMG2 on 23 November 2012. Out of the almost seven months Admiral Natale spent at the helm of the Group, he devoted six to commanding NATO counter-piracy Operation OCEAN SHIELD’S Task Force 508. During his rotation the Task Force has consisted of ITS SAN MARCO (Italy), USS HALYBURTON (U.S.), HDMS IVER HUITFELDT (Denmark), USS NICHOLAS (U.S.), HNLMS VAN SPEIJK (The Netherlands) and TCG GOKOVA (Turkey).

Under Admiral Natale’s command, Task Force 508 was able to successfully deter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, disrupting two attempted attacks in December and January. The Group’s actions actively contributed to a streak of preventing successful hijackings for more than a year.  
“What has been accomplished during this deployment is yet again proof of NATO’s validity as a framework for achieving real results” said Admiral Hudson. “If NATO is the link that allows us to work together in difficult tasks such as fighting piracy, the nations, in this case Italy and now Spain provide the necessary strength.”

Admiral Natale and his team never took this relative improvement in the security of the region for granted.  Taking a particularly proactive stance, the Task Force seized every opportunity to engage with all major stakeholders in the fight against piracy. NATO warships met on five occasions with their Russian counterparts from the Pacific and Baltic fleets, conducting two joint trainings at sea. TF508 units also met with the Chinese counter-piracy task group and conducted several activities together, such as medical assistance to the Somali population in early June, setting the tone for a promising NATO-China cooperation in the region.

Mindful that the suppression of piracy can only be achieved by empowering neighbouring states to take full ownership of their maritime security, TF508 has been particularly engaged with assisting Tanzania, Kenya, Djibouti, the U.A.E, Oman, the Seychelles and Yemen in consolidating their own counter-piracy capabilities. NATO forces have also engaged on fifteen occasions with Somali coastal villages, meeting with local leaders to exchange information on the reality and the risks involved in piracy activities, and also providing medical assistance to the population.
 
“We have reached a turning point in the way we address the issue of piracy. Deterrence at sea is of course essential to guarantee freedom of navigation, but it is not enough. We must continue to reach out to a wide range of actors ashore and assist their efforts to deal with piracy in a self-reliant way and to bring law and justice to Somalia” said Admiral Natale, looking back on this six-month deployment.

“The flexibility, freedom of movement, autonomy and high level of readiness, which characterise Standing NATO Maritime Groups, make them tools of choice for NATO across the entire spectrum of the Alliance’s missions. I can assure you that Spain and all the nations participating in SNMG2 are acutely aware of this responsibility”said Rear Admiral Díaz Del Río before returning to his flagship. SNMG2 units will now proceed to their patrol area in the Mediterranean in support of Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR and guarantee the continuity of NATO’s watch on the seas.

NATO SNMCMG-2 In Albania (Part 2)

M-260 TCG Erdemli, arriving in Vlores, Albania.

M-260 TCG Erdemli, arriving in Vlores, Albania. Photo: Albanian Armed Forces.

The Albanian Armed Forces is providing information about the SNMCMG-2 visit to this country:

Today, on 06.07.2013 at 08:00 in the Sea Port of Vlora arrived ready group of NATO minesweeper, SNMCMG 2. Ready Group of the NATO minesweeper, SNMCMG2, composed of ships “HMS LEDBURY”, “TCG EDINCIK” and “ITS Crotone” between 7 to 10 June 2013 is conducting a port visit in Port of Vlora, in compliance Support Plan for NATO Integration (ISP) for 2013. The purpose of this visit is to familiarize the exchange of experiences and the development of a joint naval exercise “PASSEX” Naval Flotilla boats, Pashaliman, Vlora.

This exercise serves to increase the professionalism of the personnel of the Naval Force ships, and enhances interoperability of our vessels under joint development of naval operations to NATO. This exercise which will take place on the last day of stay shipping group willing to NATO, SNMCMG2 the Port of Vlora.

NATO SNMCMG-2 In Albania

NATO’s mine counter measures group SNMCMG-2 Arrived in Vlores, Albania on 7 June 2013 for a 4 day visit.

Three NATO SNMCMG2 Mine Counter-measuring Ships have anchored on Friday morning in the port of Valona.

Official sources from the Albanian Ministry of Defense confirmed that these ships will stay on this port for 4 days, from June 7 until June 10, 2013.

The Ministry of Defense said that this visit is held on the framework of the support plan for integration in the NATO and its scope is to offer knowledge on the standard operational sea procedures.

After the anchoring of the ships in the port of Valona, commanders of these ships have visited the Command of the Sea Fleet in Pashaliman to hold a meeting with commander, First Captain Subi Zenelaj. /ibna/

In the task force are the Turkish mine hunter M-260 TCG Edincik, the Italian mine hunter 5558 ITS Crotone and one unidentified Royal Navy warship.

This an Albanian news clip about the SNMCMG-2 visit.

And this is an Albanian news article about the visit.

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