NATO ships arrive in Norfolk to begin ARGMEU EX
Norfolk, Va. – Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) arrived Tuesday in Norfolk, Va. for a scheduled port visit in conjunction with Amphibious Readiness Group and Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercises (ARGMEU EX). ARGMEU EX are multi-warfare amphibious exercises with the USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Amphibious Readiness Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. SNMG2 has already completed Task Group Exercises and Fleet Exercises with assets from the U.S. and Canadian navies. ARG-MEU EX is SNMG2's first opportunity to train with the U.S. Marine Corps.
This port visit and ARGMEU EX are part of a series of training exercises in which SNMG2 will participate during its deployment to the Western Atlantic. This is the first time in several years that a NATO task force has conducted transatlantic operations in North America. ARG MEU EX will provide valuable experience through integrated task group training, with a focus on amphibious warfare.
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.
"I'm extremely honoured to be the first Turkish ship to visit the United States in quite some time. I look forward to fostering relationships and training with our U.S. counterparts and I'm happy for many of our Sailors to make their first trip to the United States during this deployment," said Cmdr. Fatih Guresci, Kemalreis Commanding Officer.
During the port visit, SNMG2 will coordinate with representatives from Carrier Strike Group 4 (CSG4) to prepare for the exercises, and meet with local military and civilian leadership. Sailors from all three ships will also have some free time to explore the local area before going back to sea for the exercises.
"This deployment has already proven to be incredibly valuable for our force. Training as we have, 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. "I'm looking forward to getting back to sea and adding the United States Marine Corps to the list of professional forces with whom we have worked."
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.