NATO Standing Mine Counter-Measures Group TWO (SNMCMG2) has wrapped up two weeks of participating in the Italian Navy hosted exercise ITA-MINEX 14.
The aim of the exercise was to secure access to commercial ports through effective use of minesweepers and the use of mine hunting capabilities in an asymmetric threat scenario.
Sixteen units from Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Turkey and United Kingdom participated in this exercise, conducted by the Italian Navy MCM Forces Command (COMFORDRAG). The participating units, organised in three naval groups, SNMCMG2, European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR) and Italian Navy COMFORDRAG, trained to operate together to defend sea routes from mine threats.
NATO’s Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE) also participated with the NATO research vessel NRV ALLIANCE and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) providing the capability for underwater inspections in support of MCM operations. During the exercise, ‘dummy mines’ were laid by the Italian Navy, and more than 20 of these were identified and countermined by the minehunters of SNMCMG2.
As part of the scenario and during the mine hunting phases several simulated attacks were conducted by helicopters (simulating ‘low-slow flyers’) and speedboats (simulating ‘fast-inshore attack crafts). The flagship of SNMCMG2, FGS RHEIN, conducted firing exercises and helicopter/flight deck training while the minehunters were conducting countermining operations.
“I am particularly pleased with the achievements of the vessels composing SNMCMG2, which have contributed significantly to the success of ITA-MINEX,” said Commander Matthias Seipel (DEU N), Commander SNMCMG2. “This exercise was an excellent example of NATO-EU cooperation.”
Press Release, June 11, 2014; Image: NATO