NATO Forces return to the Black Sea for two regional exercises

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Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) units have entered the Black Sea for the second time this year to conduct further routine operations, and to participate in two regional exercises organised by the Bulgarian and Ukrainian navies, NATO Maritime Command announced on 14th July.

SNMG2 arrived to the Black Sea on 9 July, and is composed of three frigates from Spain, Romania and Turkey, led by Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre of the Spanish Navy, with the Spanish frigate Álvaro de Bazán (F-101) as the flagship.

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, SNMG2 has unerringly carried out a programme of activities planned many months in advance. This visit to the Black Sea, the first one since I took command, is in line with NATO Maritime Command direction and yet another example of NATO’s ongoing regional commitments with our Allies and partners,” said the SNMG2 Commander.

SNMCMG2 vessels HS Aliakmon (flagship), ESPS Tambre, TCG Amasra and ITS Gaeta, led by Commander Dimitrios Katsouras of the Hellenic Navy, entered the Black Sea on 7 July, where it was joined by ROS Lupu Dinescu and sailed towards Burgas (BUL) where they arrived on 10 July.
“The force integration phase in the Aegean Sea was essential for the Group to bond and become fully mission capable, in order to contribute to NATO readiness building in our first Black Sea Deployment”, said the SNMCMG2 Commander.

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 conducting maritime security patrols in international waters, the two exercises will help enhance interoperability between Allies and regional partners.

With visits planned to Bulgaria and Ukraine in the coming days, all activities of the Standing NATO Forces ashore will continue to abide by COVID-19 restrictions, designed to protect their operational capabilities. However, as national regulations are eased, opportunities for key engagements will help reaffirm and build these regional relationships.

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