The exercise was carried out between the 23 October and the 6 November. It overlaps with the Italian-led Exercise Mare Aperto 23-2, which continues until 17 November.
This is both a national Italian exercise but also a NATO exercise, and it’s the first time MARCOM has worked directly with the Italian Navy to put an exercise together, with the joint staffs working together, so it’s a real win from that perspective
Led by NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), and hosted by Italy, Exercise Dynamic Mariner was vital training for the Italian Navy, as it prepares to take over the NATO Response Force Maritime element (NRF/M) from Türkiye in 2024.
“The NRF Maritime is part of NATO’s very high readiness force,” said Commander MARCOM, Vice Admiral Mike Utley. “It is immediately ready to respond to changing circumstances, and that can be anything from humanitarian disaster relief, right up to crisis and warfighting, so it has to be ready for all circumstances. The Italian Maritime Force has done a great job getting themselves ready.”
A wide range of advanced naval assets took part in Exercise Dynamic Mariner. They included approximately 30 warships including Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour, submarines, helicopters, aircraft including AV-8B Harriers and F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, as well as more than 6,000 troops, staff officers and observers from a total of 14 Allied nations – Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“It’s a huge demonstration of deter and assure,” continued Vice Admiral Utley. “This is both a national Italian exercise but also a NATO exercise, and it’s the first time MARCOM has worked directly with the Italian Navy to put an exercise together, with the joint staffs working together, so it’s a real win from that perspective. And of course having this level of capability at sea, at this time, is good news for the Alliance and reassurance for the population of NATO.”
Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) also took part in the exercise. Italian minehunter ITS Gaeta, Spanish minehunter ESPS Tambre and French minehunter FS Capricorn were joined by Italian ships ITS Chioggia and ITS Alghero for the duration of the exercise. All were operating under the Commander SNMCMG2 on board ITS Stromboli.
While engaged in a wide range of mine warfare training activities, they actually discovered several historic items of unexploded ordnance - demonstrating the relevance of this training to the real world. In cooperation with local authorities, they took immediate action to render the area safe once more for all shipping.
The ships also completed lead-through operations - where a vessel leads a second safely through a simulated minefield - and a simulated boarding operation on a suspect merchant vessel.
For SNMCMG2, Exercise Dynamic Mariner was another excellent opportunity to improve interoperability between nations and assets.
As the exercise name suggests, a dynamic approach to maritime security was central to its objectives. The scenarios and training all played a vital role in preparing participating nations for a diverse range of security threats, ranging from humanitarian disaster to terrorism, cyber-attacks and sabotage of undersea infrastructure – all of which require a multi-dimensional and adaptive response.
“It is a very realistic scenario, because we are testing both our capability to provide maritime security to the Mediterranean, but also our ability to project capabilities ashore”, said Commander in Chief Italian Fleet, Vice Admiral Aurelio De Carolis. “Dynamic Mariner is about not only moving ships in the blue waters, but also entails operating in the green and brown waters, conducting mine warfare operations and projecting an amphibious force into the crisis area in order to be ready to deploy a landing force ashore, when ordered. In this fashion, besides striving to achieve the operational objectives of the exercise, we are also training for the real-world scenario”.
Exercise Dynamic Mariner 23 fostered collaboration, interoperability and crisis response excellence between Allies, playing a key role in maintaining peace and security on the high seas.
On the 1 July 2024, the NATO Response Force will transition to the Allied Reaction Force (ARF), under NATO’s New Force Model.