NATO’s Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) has been patrolling in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey since February 12, 2016.
The group arrived in the area to participate in national and international efforts to cut the lines of illegal trafficking and illegal migration in the Aegean Sea, as mandated by the North Atlantic Council.
SNMG2 currently consists of German Navy flagship FGS Bonn, Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredericton, Turkish Navy frigate TCG Barbaros and Greek Navy frigate HS Salamis. The units are patrolling in the assigned areas and conducting reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities.
The crews are also performing drills. For instance, the flagship of the group, FGS BONN, practiced procedures related to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Seas (SOLAS).
Rear Admiral Jörg Klein, Commander of the SNMG2, said: “It is necessary to be prepared for any possible incident concerning a SOLAS case, as this is related to our task of surveillance and reconnaissance.
We are currently operating in an area where the probability to run across a refugee or migrant boat is a lot higher than in other areas. Therefore I want the units of our multinational force to be able to handle such a situation quickly and professionally.” The obligation to help people in distress at sea is a general, universal responsibility. It applies to all vessels, regardless of whether they are part of a NATO or national mission.”
The speedboats of FGS BONN trained the approach to the rubber boat of the designated personnel in distress. It was not easy for the crew to get into contact with the rescued persons brought on board due to language barriers and cultural differences.
“Normally we train procedures in case of fire or man overboard. This exercise was something special, but in the end it worked out fine. We are well prepared”, noted Rear Admiral Klein.