NATO ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) began a deployment to the Black Sea earlier this month to train with Bulgarian, Romanian, and Turkish navy units, according to a NATO release.
The training is taking place in international waters and will include anti-air warfare and anti-submarine warfare exercises, simulated small boat attacks, and basic ship handling underway.
“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 SNMG2 Commander Rear Adm. Brad Williamson, U.S. Navy, in a NATO release. The training is taking place in international waters and will include anti-air warfare and anti-submarine warfare exercises, simulated small boat attacks, and basic ship handling underway.
SNMG2’s current flagship is the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and the group includes the Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337), Turkish navy Yavuz-class (MEKO 200TN) frigate TCG Turgutreis (F 241), the German navy Röhn-class tanker FGS Spessart (A 1442), the Italian navy Maestrale-class frigate ITS Aliseo (F 574), and the Romanian navy frigate ROS Regina Maria (F 222), formerly the Royal Navy Type 22 frigate HMS London.
“The deployment of SNMG2 into the Black Sea is conducted in full compliance with international conventions as a scheduled visit in support of training as well as the assurance of Black Sea Allies,” according to the NATO release.
Russia, which invaded its neighbor Georgia in 2008, invaded Ukraine in 2014, and has repeatedly violated the airspace of European and other allies over the past few years with strategic bombers and strike aircraft, complained bitterly of the “aggressive war games.”
The group has made port visits in Varna, Bulgaria, and Constanta, Romania, where SNMG2 leadership has met with local authorities and navy officials to “discuss numerous issues of shared importance” with these NATO allies of more than a decade. Bulgaria and Romania became NATO members on March 29, 2004, along with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Such are the fears of Russian invasion that Lithuania’s government is considering a return to conscription.