Standing NATO Maritime Group-2 returns to the Black Sea

Black Sea
SNMG2 assets (Credit: NATO MARCOM)

Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) will enter the Black Sea on 12 March 2021 for the first time to conduct further routine operations and participate in a regional exercise organized by the Romanian Navy, NATO Maritime Command announced.

SNMG2, composed of ESPS Cristobal Colon (flagship), BGS Smeli, ROS Regina Maria, and TCG Kemalreis, will enter the Black Sea under the command of the Spanish Navy Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre Aldereguía.

“Having three allied nations and two partners among the littoral countries, the regular presence of a Standing Naval Force in the Black Sea region is a way for the Alliance to show presence in this area of responsibility, enhance interoperability between Allies and partners, demonstrate NATO’s commitment to Black Sea security and to preserve freedom of movement within international waters for all nations,” said Commander of SNMG2, Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre Aldereguía.

black sea maritime
SNMG2 flagship Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate Cristóbal Colón

Activity plans in the Black Sea:

During its deployment in the Black Sea, and after joining BGS Smeli and ROS Regina Maria, SNMG2 will conduct force integration training, maritime security patrols within the region, and it will integrate with NATO Air Command activities. During this integration, a Common Operational Picture (COP) will be established with the main aim of reinforcing the connectivity functions of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence Systems and verifying coordination processes among air and maritime assets. This activity, along with the participation in Romanian Navy exercise Sea Shield, will enhance interoperability between allies and regional partners, increase cohesion and enhance the credibility of NATO’s deterrence posture.

The Force will also conduct port visits to NATO countries in the region, such as Constanta (Romania) and Samsun (Turkey), as well as a diplomatic port visit to Poti (Georgia).

NATO Standing Groups regularly participate in exercises in the Black Sea with Allied nations bordering the Black Sea to improve interoperability, practice NATO standard procedures, tactics, and techniques.

After completing this Black Sea deployment, SNMG2 will resume its program of activities in the Mediterranean, including participation in multi-national maritime exercises, maritime security operations, and support to Operation Sea Guardian, and continuing cooperation with allied and partner navies.

SNMG2 is one of four standing forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations, additional forces can be added to these groups, with the NATO command staff on board and the Group’s ships as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.