SNMG2 is one of four standing groups that comprise the core of the maritime element of the NATO Response Force, and is currently composed of three frigates from Spain (ESPS Alvaro de Bazan, as flagship), Romania (ROS Regina Maria) and Turkey (TCG Yildirim).
Sea Breeze, now in its 20th iteration, is an annual exercise held in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, with ships, aircraft and personnel from Bulgaria, Georgia, Norway, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States participating.
The exercise focuses on multiple warfare areas including air defence, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, and search and rescue and involves more than 2,000 personnel. It builds on the foundation of previous iterations to provide unique training opportunities designed to enhance readiness, improve collaboration, and interoperability.
The success of Sea Breeze is even more remarkable if we consider the extraordinary circumstances derived from COVID-19
“The professionalism and enthusiasm of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two is being demonstrated day after day, interacting with allied and partner navies in a highly demanding scenario like Sea Breeze,” said Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre of the Spanish Navy, Commander of SNMG2 since 30 June, “The success of Sea Breeze is even more remarkable if we consider the extraordinary circumstances derived from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 participate in Sea Breeze exercise in the Black Sea on 20 July 2020. Photo: Spanish Navy, Standing NATO Maritime Group Two
Sea Breeze 2020 takes place exclusively at sea. This precaution allows units to enhance multinational operational cooperation, while ensuring that crews remain healthy and ready to provide continuous regional security.
This is an annual exercise that began in 1997, bringing Black Sea nations together to train and operate with NATO members to build interoperability and increase capability.
Last week SNMG2 along with the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two participated in the Bulgarian-led maritime exercise with a similar name, Breeze 2020, also held in the Black Sea.
With three Allied nations, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and two regional partners, Ukraine and Georgia bordering the Black Sea, Standing Naval Group presence in the region is a regular occurrence. Apart from participating in the two exercises, the groups are also conducting maritime security patrols in international waters enhancing maritime situational awareness between Allies and regional partners.
After completion of Sea Breeze and a short visit to Odessa, Ukraine (with minimum interaction with local authorities and population to minimize risks of COVID-19) the Group will conduct a maritime patrol while proceeding towards the Mediterranean Sea to wrap up the second deployment of NATO maritime forces in the Black Sea in 2020.