Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO Visits Piraeus
PIRAEUS, Greece – Three ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2) arrived in Piraeus Nov. 26, for a scheduled port visit during the Group's deployment to the Mediterranean to enhance maritime security and readiness, and in support of NATO's counter-terrorism Operation Active Endeavour (OAE).
Led by Rear Adm. Brad Williamson (USA N) since July, SNMG2 is currently composed of the flagship USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), HMCS Toronto (FFH 333) and ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon (F 102).
Since July, the Group has conducted multiple exercises and port visits along the North American coast and the Mediterranean, conducting high level and high tempo training and contributing to maritime situational awareness and the overall security of the Mediterranean. These included participation in NATO's Response Force certification Exercise Noble Justification and the Turkish-led Exercise Mavi Balina.
Recent SNMG2 activity in support of counter-terrorism operations included the proactive boarding and search of merchant ships in the Mediterranean. The crews of the merchant vessels were cooperative with the boarding teams as they verified the cargo and documentation. Once the SNMG2 ships confirmed that everything was in order, the merchant ships continued to their destination ports.
During the port visit, SNMG2 leadership will meet with Hellenic Navy and local authorities to discuss numerous issues of shared importance and tour the Hellenic fleet before returning to the Mediterranean in support of OAE.
"SNMG2 most recently supported Operation Active Endeavour, directly contributing to the maritime situational awareness in the Eastern Mediterranean," said Williamson. "For many in the group, this is a first visit to Greece, and we look forward to exploring the sights and sharing experiences with our Greek hosts, before returning to sea and executing our mission."
Following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR (OAE) was launched as an Article V operation, in support of the Alliance's collective self-defense.
OAE is part of NATO's multi-faceted response to current terrorist threats. Its mission is to conduct maritime operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Straits of Gibraltar to actively demonstrate NATO's resolve to help deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorism.
Through the Mediterranean Voluntary Reporting Scheme, merchant ships are encouraged to send an Initial Report to the NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) upon entering the Mediterranean or leaving a Mediterranean port. This enhances NATO's forces ability both to assist shippers and to avoid interference between military and merchant ships.
This voluntary reporting and participation of the shipping industry significantly contributes to MARCOM's network approach and understanding of vessel traffic patterns and activities, and remains significant and useful in the Alliance's efforts to counter terrorism.