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Joint Warrior 2017 Starts Today

Type-23 class frigate HMS Argyll, seen here in early August during an overhaul in Plymouth is going to take part in Exercise Joint Warrior 2017/2.

Brilliant Mariner is not the only exercise NATO is conduction currently. Today, on 1st October 2017 Joint Warrior 2017 will kick off in Scotland which is larger than the exercise in France.

According to Royal Navy Joint Warrior is one of the largest military exercises of its kind in Europe, will run from October 1-12, providing NATO allies and partners with an opportunity to improve the tactics and procedures vital in today’s complex battlefield.

Fourteen nations will participate, bringing ships, aircraft and troops to military ranges across the country and to maritime exercise areas of the west and north coast of Scotland.

Activity will feature:

  • Thirty-five naval units from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US, supported by 11 rotary wing aircraft.
  • RAF Lossiemouth and HMS Gannet in Prestwick hosting international aircraft from Canada, France, Norway, the UK and US.
  • Cape Wrath Weapons Range in the North of Scotland being used for joint fires activity.

Exercise Joint Warrior will also incorporate elements of another major exercise known as Formidable Shield, running from September 21 to October 18.

Below is the list of the ships taking part in the exercise:

Number Name Type Nation Fleet
M-924 BNS Primula Mine hunter Belgium SNMCMG1
M-314 ENS Sakala Mine hunter Estonia SNMCMG1
M-1062 FGS Sulzbach-Rosenberg Mine hunter Germany SNMCMG1
A-53 LVNS Virsaitis Mine layer Latvia SNMCMG1
M-857 HNLMS Makkum Mine hunter Netherlands SNMCMG1
M-352 HNoMS Rauma Mine sweeper Norway SNMCMG1
F-931 BNS Loise Marie Frigate Belgium
336 HMCS Montreal Frigate Canada
F-362 HDMS Peter Willemoes Frigate Denmark
F-359 HDMS Vaedderen Frigate Denmark
M-644 FS Pegase Mine hunter France
M-650 FS Sagittaire Mine hunter France
D-652 FS Provence Frigate France
F-219 FGS Sachsen Frigate Germany
F-595 ITS Luigi Rizzo Frigate Italy
F-803 HNLMS Tromp Frigate Netherlands
F-804 HNLMS De Ruyter Frigate Netherlands
F-101 ESPS Alvara De Bazan Frigate Spain
F-83 HMS St. Albans Frigate UK
F-231 HMS Argyll Frigate UK
M-110 HMS Ramsey Mine hunter UK
M-106 HMS Penzance Mine hunter UK
M-39 HMS Hurworth Mine hunter UK
M-33 HMS Brocklesby Mine hunter UK
A-135 RFA Argus Support ship UK
75 USS Donald Cook Destroyer USA
81 USS Winston S Churchill Destroyer USA
57 USS Mitscher Destroyer USA
13 USNS Medger Evers Supply ship USA

Any additions and corrections are most welcome.

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Brilliant Mariner 2017 Has Kicked Off In France

A part of the NATO fleet gathering in Toulon for Brilliant Mariner 2017. Refer the numbers to the list below for identification. Photo: French Armed Forces.

A large fleet of warships gathered in French town Toulon this week. The ships are part of NATO Maritime Command’s both Standing NATO Maritime Groups (SNMG) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG-2). In addition to the four NATO task forces, France and Spain have sent additional ships for the exercise.

France will take command of the maritime component of the Nato Response Force (NRF) from 1 January 2018, for a period of one year. This exercise will create a suitable training for the French
Rapid Response Force Headquarter as well as the participating units.

According to French Armed Forces Brilliant Mariner 2017, will take place from 29 September to 13 October 2017 in the Mediterranean Sea with the participation of 3500 sailors and thirty of units  and numerous aircraft from 3 nations

Below is the list of the ships taking part in the exercise. For the names of the ships of the photo above please refer to the last column.

Number Name Type Nation Fleet Number In the Photo
H-88 HMS Enterprise Support ship UK SNMCMG2 17
M-261 TCG Edremit Mine hunter Turkey SNMCMG2 18
M-5558 ITS Crotone Mine hunter Italy SNMCMG2 8
339 HMCS Charlottetown Frigate Canada SNMG1 1
A-1443 FGS Rhoen Support ship Germany SNMG1
F-312 HNoMS Otto Sverdrup Frigate Norway SNMG1 7
F-334 NRP Francisco De Almedia Frigate Portugal SNMG1 10
F-363 HDMS Niels Juel Frigate Denmark SNMG1 2
F-805 HNLMS Eversten Frigate Netherlands SNMG1 3
F-83 ESPS Numancia Frigate Spain SNMG1 14
L-17 HDMS Esbern Snare Support ship Denmark SNMG1
D-34 HMS Diamond Destroyer UK SNMG2 4
F-103 ESPS Blas de Lezo Frigate Spain SNMG2 5
F-244 TCG Barbaros Frigate Turkey SNMG2 9
F-451 HS Limnos Frigate Greece SNMG2 12
F-710 FS La Fayette Frigate France SNMG2 15
A-608 FS Var Support ship France
D-621 Chevalier De Paul Destroyer France 6
D-643 FS Jean De Vienne Destroyer France
D-653 FS Languedoc Destroyer France
F-714 FS Guépratte Frigate France 16
L-61 ESPS Juan Carlos 1 LHD Spain 11
L-9013 FS Mistral LHD France 13
M-645 FS Orion Mine hunter France
M-648 FS Lyre Mine hunter France

Any additions and corrections are most welcome.

UPDATE: I have removed SNMCMG-1 as it is taking part in another NATO exercise.

Poseidon 2017 Naval Exercise

NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two passing through Istanbul before taking part in Poseidon 2017.

Mine warfare exercise Poseidon, hosted by Romania is continuing in Black Sea

The exercise has started on 5 March 2016 and will end on 15 March 2017. Exercise Poseidon began in 2015 as a bilateral Romanian-Bulgarian naval exercise. The host for the exercise alternates each year between Romania and Bulgaria. NATO Standing Groups regularly participate in exercises in the Black Sea to support interoperability, practice NATO standard procedures, tactics and techniques with Allied nations bordering the Black Sea.

The main aim of the exercise is to promote mutual understanding, confidence, interoperability and defense cooperation among participating nations.

Furthermore, the exercise intents:

  • To enhance operational capabilities and readiness of all participants;
  • To exercise NATO maritime warfare procedures and tactics in a joint interagency, multinational environment;
  • To exercise NATO maritime procedures for command, control and communications;
  • To exercise NATO Rules of Engagement (NATO ROE – MC 362);
  • To enhance the CIMIC and interagency cooperation in multi-threat environment;
  • To practice standard operational procedures, communications, and support to maritime forces taking part in Crisis Response Operation (CRO)
  • To improve the operational and tactical interoperability between participating MW, ASW ships and EOD team.

Over 1500 troops and following ships are taking part in the exercise:

Number Name Type Country
63 BS Priboy Mine sweeper Bulgaria
M-1061 FGS Rottweil Mine hunter Germany
M-62 HS Europa Mine hunter Greece
511 Kontradmirał X. Czernicki Tender Poland
25 ROS Lieutenant Lupu Dunescu Mine sweeper Romania
30 ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente Mine sweeper Romania
264 ROS Admiral Eustatiu Sebstian Corvette Romania
M-35 ESPS Duero Mine hunter Spain
M-265 TCG Alanya Mine hunter Turkey
M-269 TCG Anamur Mine hunter Turkey

Turkey Deploys Two Warships To SNMG-2

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TCG Giresun passing through Istanbul in 2014. Photo: Yörük Işık.

Gabya class frigate F-491 TCG Giresun and Tuzla class patrol boat P-1201 TCG Karaburun has been deployed to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

According to NATO Maritime Command, TCG Giresun is attached to SNMG-2 Task Unit 2 consisting of Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate HMCS St. John’s. TCG Giresun will join the task force in Toronto, Italy.

The patrol boat TCG Karaburun is deployed closer to Turkey. She is will support NATO activities in the Aegean Sea as part of the international efforts to stop illegal trafficking and migration. Tuzla class patrol boats have been very active last year in the Aegean Sea and rescued hundreds may be thousands of refugees from the sea.

NATO Maps The Pattern Of Life In The Med

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From top HS Navarinon, TCG Gaziantep and ITS Aviere. Photo: from Turkish Navy official web site

NATO Maritime Command has started a focused operation to map, patterns of life in the Mediterranean.

This focused operation is led by Captain Emre Sezenler, Commodore of 2. Destroyer Flotilla of Turkish Navy and TCG Gaziantep acts as his flagship. Italian frigate ITS Aviere and Greek frigate HS Navarinon are the other components of this task force.

Below is the press release about the operation:

NORTHWOOD, United Kingdom (Feb. 7, 2017) – Three NATO ships, provided by Turkey, Italy and Greece are dedicating specific attention to portions of the eastern Mediterranean Sea over the next couple of weeks in what is called an Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) focused operation.

Operation Sea Guardian is a standing Maritime Security Operation with three main tasks, Maritime Situational Awareness, counter-terrorism and regional capacity building. As a standing operation, it is continually active through a network of ships and maritime operations centers providing information about Maritime Situational Awareness. This baseline is augmented by focused operations that concentrate on specific areas of interest.

Focused operations dedicate various types of assets under NATO operational control to developing and maintaining an accurate picture of daily activity in various parts of the Mediterranean Sea. This information builds what is called Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) which is shared across the Alliance and can be used to help identify possible security concerns while at the same time increasing cooperation, flexibility and strength through unified effort.

his is the first focus operation of 2017 and the second since Operation Sea Guardian was initiated on November 9, 2016. The first focus operation provided Allied navies information on daily patterns of life near shipping routes and fishing grounds in the central Mediterranean in order to support building a greater MSA across the Alliance.

The operation as a whole is about the fusion of information to create a more comprehensive picture of daily activities in the Mediterranean. In addition to the details provided by these assets actively collecting information in specific areas, Allied nations’ forces support this operation in various ways through active, standby or associated support.

The Flagship Of SNMG-2 Is In Izmir

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FGS Sachsen in Izmir. Photo: Oktay Cömert. Used with permission.

The flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2) FGS Sachsen is in Izmir for a liberty call.

The German Navy took over the lead of SNMG-2 in 22. December 2016 and frigate FGS Sachsen has replaced Dutch warship HNLMS De Ruyter as the flagship of the task force.

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FGS Sachsen in Izmir. Photo: Oktay Cömert. Used with permission.

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FGS Sachsen in Izmir. Photo: Oktay Cömert. Used with permission.

 

Can NATO Really Help With The Migrant Crisis In Aegean? (Part 2)

The year 2015 will be remembered by the horrendous stories of ordinary people who had to leave their homes, possessions, who had to made painful and dangerous voyages to reach Europe just to survive.
If you think the refuge crises was bad in 2015 it will be a lot worse in 2016.

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Numbers of irregular migrants rescued from the sea by Turkish Coast Guard in the frist two months of 2015  and 2016.

First the number of people trying to cross Aegean to go To Europe has increased dramatically. According to the statistics of Turkish Coast Guard number of refuges rescued from the sea in the first two months of 2016 is 14.378. This represents an almost 10 fold increase compared to same period in 2015.

Furthermore to make the things far more worse these numbers will climb higher as thousands of Syrians are running away from their demolished villages and towns because of the indiscriminate bombing of Russian Air Force on behalf of Syrian regime. The high water mark may still to come.

And European countries are not offering the even the lukewarm welcome they have given to the refuges in 2015. Existence of these immigrants are causing sever political tensions in most of the host countries. These tensions will have dire consequences for all political parties in the next election cycle.

Since Europe doesn’t want to harbour any more refugees it is trying to stop the influx by protecting its sea borders more efficiently.

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To hop across the Aegean is still the most convenient way to reach for Europe.

The Aegean Sea offers the most convenient router for the refugees. The close proximate of many Greek island to Turkish mainland makes it possible for thousands of refugees to reach to EU by entering Greece. The sea trip from Turkish mainland to Greek islands on overfilled and unstable RHIBs is often dangerous and deadly. %90 percent of 316 irregular immigration incidents in the first two months of 2016 have happened in Aegean according to Turkish Coast Guard.

Since early February, NATO, EU, Greece  and Turkey are trying to formulate plans how NATO’s assigned maritime task force SNMG-2 will perform its anti-immigration operation in the Aegean Sea.

This operation was conceived right after the German Chancellor Frau Merkel’s visit to Turkey in early February 2016.  Germany, Greece and Turkey proposed and in a record-breaking 3 days’ time NATO’s Foreign Ministers have approved the plan to commit SNMG-2 for this mission.

SNMG-2 currently consists of German Navy flagship FGS Bonn, Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredericton, Turkish Navy frigate TCG Barbaros and Greek Navy frigate HS Salamis. France and Great Britain have also disclosed that they are sending warships to reinforce the task force. The units are patrolling in the assigned areas and conducting reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities.

According to a press release from 6th March, the commanders of NATO have defined SNMG-2’s area of activity in close consultation and coordination with both Greece and Turkey. Their activities in territorial waters will be carried out in consultation and coordination with both Allies. The purpose of NATO’s deployment is not to stop or push back migrant boats, but to help our Allies Greece and Turkey, as well as the European Union, in their efforts to tackle human trafficking and the criminal networks that are fueling this crisis.

NATO’s Maritime Command has also agreed with FRONTEX on arrangements at the operational and tactical level. NATO and FRONTEX will be able to exchange liaison officers and share information in real time, to enable FRONTEX, as well as Greece and Turkey, to take action in real-time.

NATO has gained some knowledge by conducting anti piracy operations in Gulf of Aden and must have the knowledge to differentiate between the small plastic boats full of immigrants and ordinary fishermen. Thus they may apply the lessons they have learned in Gulf of Aden for a good use in Aegean. I have personally talked with a few sailors of Turkish Coast Guard operation in Aegean and they are suffering from various psychological symptoms as they fish day after day dead bodies mostly children and women from the sea. Thus presence of a NATO fleet might ease their burden.

But I still have my misgiving about the intentions of NATO’s mission and I am very sceptical about this whole thing because instead of draining the swamp Europe is trying to kill the individual mosquitoes. And what makes this effort worse is that Europe uses the NATO hammer is stead of a fly swatter.

 

Dynamic Manta 2016 Has Started

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Turkey is participating to the DYMA 2016 with one CN-235 ASW plane, the submarine TCG Dolunay and a

One of the largest anti submarine warfare exercises organised by NATO has started to-day off the coast of Sicily.Exercise Dynamic Manta 2016 will be held in Central Mediterranean where the ports and airbases on the island will host ships, submarines and air planes. The exercise will end of 4th March 2016.

Submarines from France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, under the control of NATO Submarine Command (COMSUBNATO), will join 4 surface ships from France, Italy and Spain. Host nation Italy is providing support from the Augusta Naval Base, Catania Harbour and the Sigonella Air Base in Catania.

To support the simulated multi-threat environment, 9 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States will operate from Sigonella Air Base under the control of personnel from NATO Maritime Air Command (COMMARAIRNATO).

The aim of this exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard to safety.
NATO has not published a list of participants yet but I was able to find the names of the following units:

Number Name Type Country
D-642 FS Montcalm Frigate France
A-608 FS Var Tanker France
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
S-121 HS Pipinos Submarine Greece
S-73 SPS Mistral Submarine Spain
F-81 SPS Santa Maria Frigate Spain

 

Can NATO Really Help With The Migrant Crisis In Aegean?

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Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 trains with Turkish Navy. From left to right: F-501 TCG Bodrum, 337 HMCS Fredericton, A-1413 FGS Bonn, F-494 TCG Gökova, F-244 TCG Barbaros

Last week NATO has decided in a very unorthodox speedy way -in a very un-NATO fashion- to deploy one of her naval task force to the Aegean sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece.

Dispatching Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2)to the Aegean was not a big deal since the task force spend the previous week near Aksaz Naval Base in Marmaris conducting joint trainings with Turkish Navy. The task force was literally just a few hours away when NATO Defence Ministers agreed that NATO should provide support to assist with the refugee and migrant crisis on 11 February 2016.

The SNMG-2 is made up by the A-1413 FGS Bonn, 337 HMCS Frederiction, ITS Libeccio and TCG Barbaros.  The flagship of the task force is the German auxiliary FGS Bonn. She is a combat stores ship capable of underway replenishment and can carry 7,850 tons fuel; 1,330 tons water; 280 tons cargo; 220 tons ammunition; 115 tons lubricants.  The others are frigates from Canadian, Italian and Turkish Navies, build to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and ships.

It is clear that none of these ships are specially designed to the given task of contribute critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, stressed that this mission is “not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” but about contributing “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.” As part of the agreement, NATO will co-operate closely with national coastguards and the European Union. Military authorities are now working out the details of the mission.

And General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), said that deployment of SNMG-2 was not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats. NATO will provide critical intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance information to others to stop the human trafficking and criminal networks in co-operation with national coastguards and the Frontex. The SNMG-2 will be tasked to do monitoring and other support tasks

The seat of purpose for every naval action is on land. The criminal and human trafficking networks are on land. On the sea are just the migrants trying to survive and cross the sea to the other side. Thus it just does not makes sence for NATO to send one oiler and 3 frigates to fish the helpless migrants from the sea and return them back to Turkey. While the ships of SNMG-2 especially the frigates are capable of gathering information about their enemies through their sensors, I have my doubts if these sensors will be adequate to fulfill the given task in this mission. Searching and locating large metal targets on the surface or submerged is one thing locating small dinghies made from plastic is something else.

If NATO nations really wanted to do anything to stop the these criminal networks they should have sent specialised police officers or other law enforcement forces or may be some specialised intelligence gathering ships.

The migrant crisis has a very destabilising effect on the European nations and indirectly threatens the security. But instead of draining the swamp NATO is trying to kill the individual mosquitoes. And what makes this effort worse is that NATO uses a hammer is stead of a fly swatter.

 

NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 Conducts Training In Marmara Sea

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Spanish mine hunter ESPS Tambre (left) and the Bulgarian mine sweeper BGS Shkval (right). Photo: SNMCMG-2

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The flagship of the task force TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasanpaşa. Photo: SNMCMG-2

The task force has started its recent activities in Turkish naval base in Erdek, Balıkesir in early January. Erdek is the home port of the Turkish mine hunter ships. TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa replaced her sister TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa as the flagship of the task force. Following this change the task force sailed to the Aegean Sea to conduct a port visit in İzmir and some training activities in Saros Bay in Northern Aegean.

The ships of NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 passed through Çanakkale Strait on 27 January 2015 and entered Marmara Sea. Later in this month the task force will sail through Istanbul Strait and enter the Black Sea to participate in Bulgarian mine counter measures exercise Poseidon between 20 and 27 February 2016.

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