As part of their deployment, NATO Standing Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) participated in the Bulgarian exercise ‘Breeze’, NATO Maritime Command announced. It involved 27 vessels, 9 aircraft, and 2,413 sailors from ten countries (Bulgaria, Belgium, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania, US, Turkey, and France).
“Breeze 2020 constituted an excellent opportunity for SNMCMG2 to work in a demanding and challenging maritime environment. Furthermore, it contributed to the development and maintenance of highly trained forces that can integrate seamlessly, thus building our collective deterrence and defense. Warm thanks go to the Bulgarian Navy for such a fruitful exercise,” said Captain Dimitrios Katsouras of the Hellenic Navy, Commander of SNMCMG2.
SNMG2 also joined the annual US-Ukraine exercise Sea Breeze between 20-24 July 2020. The exercise focused on multiple warfare areas including air defence, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, and search and rescue and involved more than 2,000 personnel.
It built on the foundation of previous iterations to provide unique training opportunities designed to enhance readiness, improve collaboration, and interoperability.
“Sea Breeze 20 provided a unique platform for training SNMG2 in a highly congested environment such as the Black Sea”, said Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre, Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.
After the Sea Breeze exercise, SNMG2 did a short port call to Odessa, where face to face interactions were limited due to COVID-19 measures.
“COVID has prevented us from enjoying the full hospitality of Odesa, but I am hopeful that very soon we will be back and ready to meet up in a less restrictive way”, said Commander of SNMG2.
With three Allied nations, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and two regional partners, Ukraine and Georgia bordering the Black Sea, Standing Naval Group presence in the region is a regular occurrence. Apart from participating in the two exercises, the groups are also conducting maritime security patrols in international waters enhancing maritime situational awareness between Allies and regional partners.