The Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) wrapped up naval drills in the Black Sea with the Turkish and Bulgarian Navies today.
The drills included simulated anti-air and anti-submarine warfare exercises. The warships also conducted small boat attack and basic ship handling maneuvers. Earlier last week, 7 aircrafts from the Russian Air Force conducted drills over the USS Vicksburg and the TCG Turgutries, testing their anti-air systems.
There is also a probability that the Russian fighter aircrafts were testing the new Richag-AV Electronic Warfare System. This system would enable the Russian aircraft to evade NATO’s anti-air systems and could very well jam their radars from several hundreds kilometers.
The NATO news release on the drills cited Rear Admiral Williamson—the current SNMG2 commander: “The training and exercises we will conduct with our Allies in the Black Sea prepares us to undertake any mission NATO might require to meet its obligations for collective defense,” said Williamson. “We are here at the invitation of the Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian governments and look forward to enhancing our interoperability with their navies.”
The SNMG2 normally sails with 7 ships. However, during these drills, only 5 ships were present; the two Spanish ships—ESPS Patino and Canarias—were not conducting the drills. The 5 ships were:
- Flagship US Navy USS Vicksburg, Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser;
- Royal Canadian Navy HMCS Fredericton, Halifax-class frigate;
- Turkish Naval Force TCG Turgutreis, Yavuz-class frigate;
- German Navy FGS Spessart, Rhön-class tanker;
- Italian Navy ITS Aliseo, Maestrale-class frigate;
Added to these warships, the Turkish Navy deployed the Turkish Destroyer Division Three, comprised of 3 ships:
- TCG Yavuz
- TCG Faith
- One unknown Turkish submarine.
The Romanian Navy deployed one of their frigate—Romanian Navy ROS Regina Maria, a British decommissioned ship; HMS London.
The Bulgarian Navy supplied ships for the naval drills but no further details were given.
The SNMG2 is now heading to the port of Varna, Bulgaria for a scheduled visit. Rear Admiral Williamson said that SNMG2 was looking forward to train again with the “professional mariners of the Bulgarian Navy.”
The SNMG2 has been conducting drills regularly in the Black Sea to provide support and reassurance to the NATO allies in the region. The Groups is scheduled to return to the Mediterranean later this month to resume their maritime situational awareness patrols in the region.
(Featured image – HMCS Fredericton)