SNMG-2 Arrives In Varna

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HMCS Toronto entering into Varna harbour. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon arriving in Varna harbour.  Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

Task Unit 2 of SNMG-2 consisting of F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate FHH-333 HMCS Toronto arrived in Varna Bulgaria today.

Led by Commander Jason Armstrong (Royal Canadian Navy), SNMG2 TU.02 is currently composed of HMCS TORONTO (Royal Canadian Navy) and AMIRALTE JUAN de BORBON (Spanish Navy).  SNMG2 is visiting the port as part of the Group’s deployment to the Black Sea to enhance maritime security and NATO’s readiness in the region.

“This visit has been planned for quite some time, and in light of current events it; has become all the more significant,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, Commander SNMG2 TU.02. “We are delighted to come and train together, eager to enhance our mutual understanding, and eager to bring a strong message to Bulgarian people and to all Allied Nations regarding NATO’s resolve and commitment to collective defence.

Constanta, Romania was the Task Force’s previous port of call.

On 16 September 2014, under the banner of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) Task Unit 02 (TU02), HMCS TORONTO, ESPS ALMIRANTE JUAN DE BORBON and ROS REGELE FERNIDAND have completed their 4 day visit to Constanta, Romania. The port visit served to reaffirm the Alliance’s commitment to maritime defence and security and reassure Black Sea NATO Allies.

“Our ships were honoured and humbled to be a part of NATO’s maritime visit to the historic city as Constanta, Romania,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, Commanding Officer of HMCS TORONTO and Commander of SNMG2 Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU02). “Our presence here serves to reaffirm NATO’s strong support and commitment to Alliance solidarity.”

Visit the excellent blog Sea Dog for more photos from SNMG-2.

Sea Breeze 2014 Participants

U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs shared the list of the ships that take part in the naval Exercise Sea Breeze 2014.

As reported earlier, the Turkish frigate TCG Oruçreis and the French frigate Commandant Birot are not taking part in the exercise though both ships are currently deployed in the Black Sea. The list of US Navy fails to clarify if the Georgian patrol boat Sukhomi is taking part in the exercise as reported by Russian.

It is also noteworthy that there are no Bulgarian participants.

Number
Name
Country
Type
F-512
TCG Büyükada
Turkey
Corvette
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon  Spain Frigate
F-333 HMCS Toronto Canada Frigate
DDG-71 USS Ross USA Destroyer
P-24 Sukhumi Georgia Patrol Boat
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Romania Frigate
F-264 Contraamiral Eustatiu Sebastian Romania Corvette
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachniy Ukraine Frigate
U-153 Priluki Ukraine Patrol Boat
U-120 Skadovsk Ukraine Patrol Boat
U-512 Pereyaslav Ukraine Intelligence Gathering Ship
U-542 Nova Kahovka Ukraine Training Ship
U-782 Sokal Ukraine Ambulance launch
BG-50 Kuropyannikov Ukraine Coast Guard Vessel
B-57 Mikolaiv Ukraine Coast Guard Vessel

Sea Breeze 2014 Naval Exercise Starts Next Week (UPDATED)

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F-512 TCG Büyükada heading to the Black Sea to take part in Sea Breeze 2014 exercise on 7 September 2014. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permisson.

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F-512 TCG Büyükada heading to the Black Sea to take part in Sea Breeze 2014 exercise on 7 September 2014. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permisson.

Despite my previous reporting and expectations the Turkish frigate TCG Oruçreis is not going to take part in the exercise Sea Breeze. Her deployment to the Black Sea must a regular one with national interests at heart.

The Milgem class corvette F-512 TCG Büyükada is going participate in the Sea Breeze according to the Turkish General Staff.

Click here to read about the previous Sea Breeze Exercises.

I have compiled the list of the ships that will take part in the exercise:

Number
Name
Country
Type
F-512
TCG Büyükada
Turkey
Corvette
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon  Spain Frigate
F-333 HMCS Toronto Canada Frigate
DDG-71 USS Ross USA Destroyer
P-24 Sukhumi Georgia Patrol Boat
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Romania Frigate
F-796 Commandant Birot France Frigate

SNMG-2 Passed Through Turkish Straits

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FFH-333 HMCS Toronto passing through the Bosphorus.

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FFH-333 HMCS Toronto passing through the Bosphorus.

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FFH-333 HMCS Toronto.

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Spanish frigate F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon passing through the Bosphorus.

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Spanish frigate F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon on Bosphorus.

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Spanish frigate F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon (left) and Canadian frigate FHH-333 HMCS Toronto (right) heading to the Black Sea .

Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2) Task Unit 02 entered the Black Sea on 6 September 2014.

According to NATO the SNMG-2 is made up from the following ships: USS Leyte Gulf, TCG Kemalreis, FGS Nidersachsen, HMCS Toronto and ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon. Apparently this Maritime Group is sub divided into two task units as USS Leyte Gulf, TCG Kemalreis and FGS Niedersachen are in USA, while the other two are in the Black Sea.

This is the SNMG-2 press release on Task Unit 02:

Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU.02), part of NATO’s four Standing Maritime Forces, entered the Black Sea today to participate in naval exercises with partners and to enhance NATO’s solidarity and readiness in the region.

Task Unit 02 presently consists of the Canadian frigate HMCS TORONTO and the Spanish frigate ESPS ALMIRANTE JUAN DE BORBON. They remain under the overall command of COM SNMG2 Rear Admiral Brad Williamson (USA N).

“HMCS TORONTO’s deployment in the Black Sea is an excellent opportunity for ship’s officers and crew to work closely with both Allied and partner naval forces,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, commanding officer of HMCS TORONTO. “The exercise, as well as other operations we undertake in the Black Sea, builds upon Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group TWO’s deployment in July, as participant naval forces continue to demonstrate Allied commitment to collective defence and interoperability.

And this is the SNMG-2 press release on Task Unit 01:

Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) arrived Tuesday in Norfolk, Va. for a scheduled port visit in conjunction with Amphibious Readiness Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercises (ARGMEU EX). ARGMEU EX are multi-warfare amphibious exercises with the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Amphibious Readiness Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. SNMG2 has already completed Task Group Exercises and Fleet Exercises with assets from the U.S. and Canadian navies. ARG-MEU EX is SNMG2’s first opportunity to train with the U.S. Marine Corps.

This port visit and ARGMEU EX are part of a series of training exercises in which SNMG2 will participate during its deployment to the Western Atlantic. This is the first time in several years that a NATO task force has conducted transatlantic operations in North America. ARG MEU EX will provide valuable experience through integrated task group training, with a focus on amphibious warfare.

SNMG2 ships currently deployed to North America include the U.S. flagship, USS LEYTE GULF (CG 55), the German ship FGS NIEDERSACHSEN (F 208), and the Turkish ship TCG KEMALREIS (F 247). KEMALREIS is the first Turkish warship to visit the U.S. in 15 years, and this is the first trip to the U.S. for the majority of their crew.

“I’m extremely honoured to be the first Turkish ship to visit the United States in quite some time. I look forward to fostering relationships and training with our U.S. counterparts and I’m happy for many of our Sailors to make their first trip to the United States during this deployment,” said Cmdr. Fatih Guresci, Kemalreis Commanding Officer.

I must confess I have failed to understand the logic behind the decision to split up, SNMG-2 in two and deploying them an ocean apart.

Sea Breeze 2014 Naval Exercise Starts Next Week

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Turkish Barbaros class frigate F-245 TCG Oruçreis heading to the Black Sea on 4 September 2014. She is obviously going to take part in the Sea Breeze 2014 exercise. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

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Note that TCG Oruçreis is carrying full Harpoon load. This is not a common sight. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

The Ukrainian led naval exercise Sea Breeze 2014 will start on 8 September 2014, according to a statement made by U.S. European Command.

Exercise Sea Breeze 2014, a multinational maritime exercise in the Black Sea, is set to start Sept. 8, as representatives from five participating nations and Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU.02) will gather at sea aboard USS Ross (DDG 71) for the exercise’s opening ceremony.

Approximately 280 U.S. service members will participate in the event.

The exercise is scheduled to take place Sept. 8-10, with naval forces from participating countries working together in order to strengthen interoperability and improve maritime security.

Leaders from Ukraine and the U.S., co-hosts for the 13th iteration of the exercise, share sentiments about the progress of both the exercise and maritime security in the Black Sea that have occurred since the exercise’s inception.

Much of the exercise will focus on maritime interdiction operations as a primary means to enhance maritime security. The other key components of the exercise focus on communications, search and rescue, force protection and navigation.

This year’s participants include Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and the U.S., as well as three ships from Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU.02): Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto (FFH 333); Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon; and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand.

Click here to read about the previous Sea Breeze Exercises.

I have compiled the list of the ships that will take part in the exercise:

Number
Name
Country
Type
F-245
TCG Oruçreis
Turkey
Frigate
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon  Spain Frigate
F-333 HMCS Toronto Canada Frigate
DDG-71 USS Ross USA Destroyer
P-24 Sukhumi Georgia Patrol Boat
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Romania Frigate
F-796 Commandant Birot France Frigate

SNMCMG-2 In Istanbul

SNMCMG-2 In Istanbul

SNMCMG-2 In Istanbul

The resolution of the photo is not excellent but it is good enough to recognize the shapes of the warships of SNMCMG-2 making a port visit in Istanbul.

The NATO taskforce arrived,  on 23 July 2014 in Istanbul, after making port visits in Varna Bulgaria and Constanta Romania. While in Bulgaria, the task force took part in the Bulgarian led naval exercise Breeze 2014.

Update On Breeze 2014 Naval Exercise

With the exception of Bulgarian participants I have more or less the complete list of the participants to this exercise:

Number Name Type Country
P-266 HS Machitis Patrol Craft Greece
F-582 ITS Aviere Frigate Italy
M-5561 ITS Rimini Mine Hunter Italy
F-222 ROS Regina Maria Frigate Romania
M-30 Alexandru Axente Mine Sweeper Romania
M-270 TCG Akçay Mine Hunter Turkey
P-1200 TCG Tuzla Patrol Craft Turkey
P-332 TCG Mızrak Fast Attack Craft Turkey
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
M-37 HSM Chiddingfold Mine Hunter UK
CG-72 USS Vella Gulf Cruiser USA

In addition to the above mentioned naval units one P-3 Orion from US Navy and one CN-235 from Turkish Navy are also taking part in the exercise.

Breeze 2014 Naval Exercise

The Bulgarian Navy is hosting a nine day long naval exercise Breeze 2014.

The military exercise is to be held in the Western section of the Black Sea and is aimed at improving the tactical compatibility and collaboration among naval forces of the alliance’s member states.

Bulgaria’s port city of Burgas has peen picked to host the staff of the drills.

While Breeze 2014 is taking place, the staff of the Bulgarian Naval Forces will be certified for conformity of the level of planning independent operations to NATO criteria, according to the website pan.bg, specialized in defense issues.

The exercise, which ends July 13, starts amid stepped-up presence of alliance forces in the Black Sea over the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s decision to incorporate the Crimean peninsula in March this year. 

According to the information I have the following ships are taking part in the exercise:

 Number Name Type Country
F-582 ITS Aviere Frigate Italy
5561 ITS Rimini Mine Hunter Italy
M-37 HSM Chiddingfold Mine Hunter UK
M-270 TCG Akçay Mine Hunter Turkey
P-266 HS Machitis Patrol Craft Greece
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
P-332 TCG Mızrak Fast Attack Craft Turkey
P-1200 TCG Tuzla Patrol Craft Turkey

As always I will appreciate any additional information about the participants.

Here is a nice video showing the arrival of the NATO SNMCMG-2 ships to Burgas.

SNMG-2 Is Back In Istanbul

Almost one year later, the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is in Istanbul again.

According to NATO Maritime Command web site the SNMG 2 is made up from the following ships: F-105 SPS Cristobal Colon as flagship, F-247 TCG Kemalreis, FFG-50 USS Taylor, 334 HMCS Regina and A-630 FS Marne. The task force, without the US and French warships arrived in Istanbul on 19 June 2014 afternoon.

The big question is where it will sail when their port visit is over? To the Black Sea or to the Mediterranean?

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis. Turkish contribution to SNMG-2. Last year her sister F-246 TCG Salihreis was with the task force.

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F-105 Cristobal Colon. Most if not all Álvaro de Bazán class ships served as the flagships of SNMG for in turn during the Spanish command of the task force.

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Long time no see: A Canadian warship in Istanbul. FFH-334 HMCS Regina.

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F-105 Cristobal Colon. The flagships of SNMG.

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US made Bushmaster as CIWS instead of indigenous Meroka!? What was the reason for this decision? space or weight limitations or performance issues?

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F-105 Cristobal Colon. The flagships of SNMG.

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FFH-334 HMCS Regina. The side of the funnel is an unusual place to install Sea Sparrow SAM missiles.

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FFH-334 HMCS Regina.

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FFH-334 HMCS Regina.

TCG Gökçeada Joined SNMG-2

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TCG Gökçeada departing. Photo: official Turkish Navy photo.

According to the official website of Turkish Navy, the Gabya (Perry) class frigate F-494 TCG Gökçeada departed from her home port Aksaz, Marmaris on 10 March 2014 to replace the frigate F-493 TCG Gelibolu of the same class in SNMG-2.

TCG Gelibolu was as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 under Spanish command in Gulf Of Aden and was taking part in Operation Ocean Shield, which is NATO’s counter piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden and off the Horn of Africa.

From 14 March till 24 June 2014, TCG Gökçeada will protect the civilian ships against the pirates.

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