NATO ships in Black Sea on routine visit, unrelated to Georgia crisis
The Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1), a group of NATO warships, conducts routine port visits and exercises with NATO member nations bordering the Black Sea since 21 August.
This deployment is routine in nature and has been planned for over a year, notification of the requirement to transit the Turkish Straits was given in June well before the current Georgia crisis and is completely unrelated. In accordance with the terms of the Montreux Convention, the ships will stay no longer than 21 days in the Black Sea.
SNMG 1 currently comprises the Spanish SPS Adm Juan de Bourbon, the German, FGS Luebeck and the Polish, ORP General K Pulaski and the US frigate, USS Taylor.
A fifth member of SNMG1, the Canadian frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec, was recently detached from the group to escort World Food Programme shipping off the coast of Somalia under Canadian national authority.
The ships are currently in Constanta, Romania and will conduct exercises with Bulgarian and Romanian ships as well as paying a port visit to Varna, Bulgaria before leaving the Black Sea.
SNMG 1 is one of NATO’s standing elements, a group of member nations’ frigates and destroyers, who exercise together year round to promote interoperability.
Vice-Admiral Pim Bedet, Deputy Commander Allied Maritime Component Command Headquarters Northwood stated “SNMG1, as a standing core element of the NATO Response Force, is conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with our NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria, which is an important feature of our routine planning in order to maintain high levels of interoperability and cohesion within the Alliance.”
NATO — NATO Press Release (2008)110