20 Mar. 2015 by NATO
NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) completed their participation in joint NATO training exercises and maritime situational awareness operations in the Black Sea today.
Led by Rear Adm. Brad Williamson (USA N), SNMG2 is currently comprised of the flagship USS Vicksburg (CG 69), HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337), TCG Turgutreis (F 241), FGS Spessart (A 1442), and ITS Aliseo (F 574).
"The planning, coordination and execution of these exercises allowed the integration of SNMG2 and other maritime Alliance assets in a multi-threat environment," said Lt. Cmdr. Ruiz Rodriguez (ESP N), SNMG2 Staff Communications Officer. "The training provided us with outstanding results and allowed us to showcase our integration for key leadership across the Alliance."
SNMG2 was deployed to the Black Sea to reassure allies in the region of the Alliance’s collective defence and resolve. Throughout the month of March, SNMG2 participated in three separate exercises designed to improve interoperability and enhance rapid integration of Alliance maritime assets.
"Working with our Allied navies helps us improve our teamwork and interoperability," said Ensign Andrew Hanna, Vicksburg’s 1st Lieutenant. "The experience that we gained from these exercises will help us become more proficient both as operators and as a unit."
The force trained on anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare procedures during separate exercises with the Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian navies. The ships also responded to simulated small boat attacks and maneuvers with the ships in close proximity to one another.
"I am truly proud of the performance of all SNMG2 Sailors over the last several weeks," said Williamson. "The hard work they put in during this period allowed for invaluable training with our Allies on the Black Sea. The rapid integration we were able to achieve with three different navies is a true testament to the strength of the Alliance."
While in the Black Sea, SNMG2 made port visits to Varna, Bulgaria and Constanta, Romania. During each visit, the Sailors and leadership of the group interacted with key decision-makers both professionally and personally. The crews from all ships were also afforded time to explore the region and experience the rich history and culture of the Alliance nations bordering the Black Sea.
Since Williamson assumed command of SNMG2 in July 2014, the group deployed to the North American coast where it participated in three high-tempo exercises with multiple Allied nations.
Upon completion of their North American deployment, the ships of SNMG2 returned to the Mediterranean and again engaged in complex multinational exercises with Allied nations, including one of NATO’s largest exercises and the naval response force certification event for 2014; exercise Noble Justification. SNMG2 also completed several surges in support of NATO’s anti-terrorism mission, Operation Active Endeavour.
The group will resume patrols in Mediterranean, contributing to maritime situational awareness in the region.