Over the weekend, NATO Allied Maritime Command’s Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Giorgio Lazio met with Bulgarian and Romanian military leadership in the framework of MARCOM periodic engagements with the maritime forces of the Allied nations bordering the Black Sea, and to contribute in profiling NATO’s commitment to collective defence.
The visit was held in conjunction with port visits by Standing NATO Maritime Group ONE (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group TWO (SNMCMG2) to Bulgaria.
The visits began in Varna, where Rear Admiral Lazio met with the Chief of the Bulgarian Navy, Rear Admiral Mitko Petev. Time spent in Varna also included a visit to the SNMG1 flagship NRP D. FRANCISCO DE ALMEIDA, where Rear Admiral Lazio met with the Commander of SNMG1, Rear Admiral Silvestre Correira, and the Commander of SNMCMG2, Captain Ramazan Kesgin.
Discussions centred around Bulgarian Navy force contributions to Standing Naval Forces and participation in NATO’s maritime operations and exercises, as well as NATO’s participation in Bulgarian-led exercises such as BREEZE. Additional topics included contributions to maritime situational awareness in the Black Sea and updates by the Bulgarian Navy on modernization initiatives.
When visits in Varna concluded, Rear Admiral Lazio moved on to Bucharest, where he met with the Romanian Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Nicolae Ciuca and Chief of Navy Rear Admiral Alexandru Mirsu, where similar discussions were held. The Romanian Navy also briefed the MARCOM Chief of Staff on the upcoming nationally-led SEA SHIELD exercise, in which SNMG1 will participate.
The Bulgarian and Romanian Navies have provided significant contributions to NATO operations since joining NATO in 2004. The contributions have included support to Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, NATO’s only active Article V operation, which focuses on counter-terrorism in the Mediterranean Sea. The Black Sea Allies also contributed forces to Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR (Libya).