NATO Ships Visit Varna, Bulgaria
VARNA, Bulgaria - Three NATO ships from Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) arrived in Varna, Bulgaria for a port visit as part of their routine Black Sea patrol.
SNMG2 is led by Royal Navy Commodore Mike Utley OBE from onboard his flagship, the Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer, HMS Duncan. Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand complete the rest of the group patrolling the Black Sea.
The group is conducting a routine port visit to Varna as part of their annual schedule of operations. Planned activities include courtesy calls with local authorities and force co-ordination meetings in order to prepare for the next phase of the deployment.
On departure from Varna, the Group will conduct manoeuvres with elements of the Bulgarian Navy. Exercises such as this are part of the increased maritime presence of NATO groups in the Black Sea, designed to increase interoperability and enhance NATO's ability to protect national sovereignty through collective defense.
"I consider it a privilege to visit Varna and to have the opportunity to work alongside the Bulgarian Navy," said SNMG2 Commander, Commodore Mike Utley, "It is essential that we maintain a close relationship in order to ensure a strong NATO maritime presence in the international waters of the Black Sea."
Following their previous port visit in Romania, SNMG2 and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) completed exercises with the Romanian Navy, increasing interoperability and practicing skills including Air Defence, advanced navigation, communications and mine neutralization.