Two of NATO’s Immediate Reaction Forces meet at sea

Mediterranean Sea. With only a few orders, the Italian mine hunter ITS Alghero gently leads the Netherlands frigate HNLMS De Ruyter and the Canadian Frigate HMCS Charlottetown through a path that she cleared of mines shortly before.

Courtesy photo by SNMG1 SPAO
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Fortunately, this time the minefield is simulated and it serves as a means to bring the unique capabilities of both the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) and the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasure Group 2 (SNMCMG2) together. But only half a year ago such a lead through was done for real, when NATO’s mine countermeasures vessels (MCMV’s)worked in the approaches to Libya.

NATO operates four multinational task groups at immediate readiness. Two of those are centered around frigates, two around MCMV’s. „Yet the relevance and utility of these groups are the same”, explains Commander Alex Serrano, chief of staff of SNMG1. „Today’s inter-connected, global economy depends strongly on a free flow of goods over the sea lanes of communications and an assured access to ports. Piracy, proliferation of submarines and the low cost and easy access to mines are just a few examples to clarify that we should not take the free flow and assured access for granted. Both SNMG1 and SNMCMG2 provide NATO with ideal tools to react quickly when a risk transforms into an actual threat.”

With both groups on patrol in the western Mediterranean Sea under the longstanding NATO Operation Active Endeavour, an opportunity for interaction was seen and seized by both multinational staffs. At short notice a series of exercises was designed that reflected operational realism where both groups would operate together.

Allied Command Operations