NATO ships enter Black Sea for exercises with Ukrainian, Bulgarian navies

NATO ships enter Black Sea for exercises with Ukrainian, Bulgarian navies

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 organized by the Bulgarian and Ukrainian navies, the press service of NATO's Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) has reported.

"Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, SNMG2 has unerringly carried out a program 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," Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre of the Spanish Navy, the SNMG2 Commander, said.

According to him, SNMG2 arrived at the Black Sea on July 9, and is composed of three frigates from Spain, Romania and Turkey.

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 July 7, where it was joined by ROS Lupu Dinescu and sailed towards Burgas (BUL) where they arrived on July 10.

"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," SNMCMG2 Commander Katsouras said.

"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," the report reads.

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.

Photo credit: Spanish Navy / Hellenic Navy

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