NATO’s two frigates drop anchor in Istanbul shores

NATO’s two frigates drop anchor in Istanbul shores

NATO’s two frigates drop anchor in Istanbul shores

The Spanish frigate ESPS “Blas de Lezo” arrived in Istanbul July 25th and it will be anchored in Sarayburnu Dock until July 28th, together with Turkish frigate TCG “Salihreis”. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

A key NATO maritime group has dropped anchor off the shore of Istanbul, returning from a military exercise in the Black Sea with the Bulgarian Navy.

The group will have three more exercises in the West Mediterranean this year. The group’s mission is to be ready for naval operations in any situation in the region, Spanish Rear Adm. Eugene Diaz Del Rio said yesterday. “We are executing two main operations: One is against terrorist activities in the Mediterranean, and the other operation is anti-piracy in the Indian Ocean,” Del Rio told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Led by Del Rio, Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) is a multinational, integrated maritime force made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team.

‘Collaboration with the Turkish Navy is fantastic’

Usually the force works in the Mediterranean area but, as required, is available anywhere NATO requires it to deploy to.

The SNMG-2 completed the two-week military drill, which started June 15, with its two frigates, Spanish Blas De Lezo and Turkish Salih Reis and 400 mariners.

“Our collaboration with the Turkish Navy is fantastic... I have been with the Turkish commander on this task almost 10 months. We have a very close relationship. We feel very close to the Turkish Navy, and I appreciate a lot the Turkish Navy’s big effort to support my force. The Turkish Navy provides fuel, water, training... All these things are provided by the Turkish Navy... and it really costs a lot,” he said. Del Rio said navies should be ready to intervene in any sudden situation in the region.

“We cannot say, ‘We need 24 hours, please wait,’ so we are always ready to move immediately.”

During the Spanish tenure, the SNMG-2 will participate in different NATO and non-NATO exercises, including Breeze 2013, organized by the Bulgarian Navy; Doğu Akdeniz 2013, planned by the Turkish Navy; NAIAS 2013, conducted by Greece; and Brilliant Mariner/Mare Aperto 2013, organized by Italy.

The composition of the force varies as naval units are provided by NATO-contributing nations on a rotational basis while the command of the force rotates between nations.