NATO ships arrive in Baltimore for Star Spangled Spectacular
BALTIMORE, United States of America – Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) arrived today in Baltimore as part of the Star Spangled Spectacular celebrations taking place here.
This port visit is part of a North American deployment for SNMG2, during which the force has completed numerous exercises with allied nations in the waters of the Western Atlantic. This is the first time in several years that a NATO task force has conducted transatlantic operations in North America.
SNMG2 ships currently deployed to North America include the U.S. flagship, USS LEYTE GULF (CG 55), the German ship FGS NIEDERSACHSEN (F 208), and the Turkish ship TCG KEMALREIS (F 247). KEMALREIS is the first Turkish warship to visit the U.S. in 15 years, and this is the first trip to the U.S. for the majority of their crew. This deployment also marks the final deployment for Niedersachsen, which will be decommissioned shortly after she returns to homeport.
During the port visit, SNMG2 Sailors will take advantage of the many activities this week's events have to offer, volunteer their time to give back to the local community, and participate in several ceremonies honoring the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.
"This deployment has proven to be incredibly valuable for our force. Training with multiple assets from multiple allied nations, is a rare opportunity that has improved our already strong integration and reinforced the transatlantic nature of NATO," said Rear Adm. Brad Williamson, Commander SNMG2. "Upon completion of this port visit, we will sail back across the Atlantic and continue to support NATO's maritime security missions. The vital training we have received here has significantly increased our readiness for those missions."
SNMG2 is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from real world operations to exercise participation. Composition of the force varies as allied nations contribute assets on a rotational basis. SNMG2 will be led by a U.S. Navy admiral and flagship until June 2015.