Two NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO (SNMG2), flagship ESPS ALVARO DE BAZAN and FGS SACHSEN, arrived Wednesday 27 November 2013 for a visit to the historic port city of Haifa, Israel.
In conjunction with the port visit, Vice Admiral Peter Hudson, Commander of NATO Allied Maritime Command, travelled to Haifa to visit the Group and participate in staff talks and activities with the Chief of the Israeli Navy.
On the way into the port, NATO and Israeli naval forces participated in a passing exercise (PASSEX) to enhance interoperability between the maritime partners.
The port visit provided the crew of the SNMG2 ships an opportunity to interact with their Israeli counterparts in numerous ways, including personnel exchange visits to each partner’s ship, a wreath laying at Yad Vashem, a sporting event between the partners, and courtesy calls with local officials.
“We are very happy to be visiting our Mediterranean Dialogue partner in this friendly port,” said Rear Admiral Eugenio Díaz del Río, Commander of SNMG2. “The Israeli Navy is a key partner for NATO’s maritime forces in the region in a variety of areas, to include counter-terrorism, search and rescue, and maritime security.”
SNMG2 has been very busy in the preceding months supporting NATO’s counter-terrorism Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR. As their support to this mission draws to a close, the Group will next head to the Indian Ocean to take command of NATO’s counter-piracy task group (CTF-508) in December.
Since joining the Mediterranean Dialogue in 1995, Israel has become a key strategic partner for NATO in the region. Israel was the first country within the MD to have an Individual Cooperation Programme approved, providing the framework for future cooperation.
Press Release, December 2, 2013; Image: NATO ACO