NATO Maritime Command has announced that 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.
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.
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.
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.
SNMG2 and SNMCMG2 are two of our 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 onboard and the ships of the group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.
NATO warships also will take part in Sea Breeze is a U.S. and Ukraine co-hosted multinational maritime exercise that held in the Black Sea and is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen maritime security and peace within the region.