Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) has concluded a port visit to Odesa, Ukraine, and a passing exercise (PASSEX) series with the Ukrainian Navy between 10-14 March 2021 NATO Maritime Command announced with a press release.
SNMCMG2, consisting of the flagship TCG Sokullu Mehmet Pasa (Turkey), ROS Lupu Dinescu (Romania), ESPS Tajo (Spain), and TCG Ayvalık (Turkey), arrived in Odesa on 10 March after patrolling the Black Sea for the past weeks.
Over the weekend between 13-14 March, Ukrainian Navy ships Sloviansk, Genichesk, and Nikopol participated in a joint PASSEX with SNMCMG2 units, contributing to enhanced interoperability among Allied and Ukrainian assets.
“This port visit and exercises were an opportunity for us to strengthen our relationship with our close partner Ukraine in the Black Sea. Ukrainian Navy is highly professional, and any interaction with Ukrainian Navy as a partner is precious to us,” said Captain Yusuf Karagulle, Commander of SNMCMG2.
Standing Naval Forces conduct regular interactions with partner nations, thus increasing the common understanding of the regional maritime environment, fostering knowledge exchange, and cultural understanding and trust.
Standing Nato Mine Countermeasures Maritime Group-2 entered the Black sea on 25 February. With three Allied nations, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey, and two regional partners, Ukraine and Georgia, bordering the Black Sea, the Standing Naval Group presence in the region is a regular occurrence. Patrols by NATO Maritime Groups have increased over the last few years. There were five patrols in 2020.
Relations between NATO and Ukraine date back to the early 1990s and have since developed into one of NATO’s most substantial partnerships. Since 2014, in the wake of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, cooperation has been intensified in critical areas, including increased NATO presence in the Black Sea and stepped-up maritime collaboration with Ukraine and Georgia.
After completing PASSEX activities, the Group conducted a maritime patrol while proceeding towards the Mediterranean Sea to wrap up their first deployment of NATO naval forces in the Black Sea in 2021.