After almost a month of being dispersed on individual tasks throughout the Mediterranean, the now seven-strong multinational NATO task group is back operating closely together. During the past week, the ships and staff of SNMG2 have been put through their paces with a comprehensive and high-intensity training package. This has challenged them through a variety of increasingly complex integration scenarios, including: tactical communications and manoeuvring, live gunnery, air defence, surface warfare and replenishment-at-sea.
The opportunity to train together so as to be able to understand and maximise these attributes, while reinforcing our common tactics and procedures, is vital to maintaining the interoperability of these NATO ships. This in turn is key to our success as a task group
SNMG2 currently comprises almost 1,500 personnel, split between seven ships from six different nations, including: HMS Duncan (UK), ESPS Méndez Núñez (Spain), ITS Margottini (Italy), FS Surcouf (France), TCG Yavuz (Türkiye), ESPS Patiño (Spain), and FGS Frankfurt Am Main (Germany). The task group is led by Royal Navy Commodore Paul Stroude.
The ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) have rendezvoused in the eastern Mediterranean to complete an intensive period of combined training and operations.
“Each nation brings its own capabilities and unique strengths to the group,” Stroud said about the recent period at sea. “The opportunity to train together so as to be able to understand and maximise these attributes, while reinforcing our common tactics and procedures, is vital to maintaining the interoperability of these NATO ships. This in turn is key to our success as a task group.”
The recent addition of the Spanish supply ship ESPS Patiño has significantly increased SNMG2’s sustainability at sea, and enhanced the support already offered by the German supply ship FGS Frankfurt am Main.
“Having dedicated supply ships as part of the task group underpins our very high readiness by enabling us to stay forward deployed on operations at sea for much longer,” Stroud said.
In a demonstration of this capability, HMS Duncan, ESPS Méndez Núñez and FS Surcouf conducted a complex replenishment-at-sea with FGS Frankfurt Am Main, simultaneously pumping fuel to two ships, whilst also transferring personnel via helicopter.
Another key part of the week’s integration training saw SNMG2’s combined helicopter force rack up dozens of hours of flying. Now numbering five helicopters, these aircraft allow the task group to extend its effective range well beyond the horizon. Equipped with a variety of advanced sensors and weapon systems, they are capable of defending against threats both above and below the water. They also offer logistical flexibility to the group, allowing for the rapid movement of personnel and equipment both between ships and back to shore. After numerous deck landings on each other’s ships throughout the week, the task group’s aircrew have shown that they are well prepared for alliance operations.
SNMG2 is one of four Standing Naval Forces groups operating under NATO Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, United Kingdom.