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Ten allied countries, including Spain, will test their antisubmarine war tactics with air and naval means
NATO will do its utmost to avoid situations of risk during the ‘Dynamic Manta 2019’ maneuvers of anti-submarine warfare that started on Monday in the Mediterranean, southeast of the Sicilian coast, due to the possible presence of Russian submarines.
“The area where we operate with ships and submarines are intentionally announced, so it would be potentially unsafe when another submarine was in this area,” said Dutch commodore Boudewijn Boots, when asked if they fear a collision risk due to the possible activity of Russian submarines near the maneuver area.
“Today or tomorrow we will have them here”, explained allied sources, who have pointed out that several Russian submarines had left the Syrian base of Tartus.
The NATO commander for Submarines, US Vice Admiral Andrew Lennon, has confirmed that the allies have “seen an increase in Russian maritime activity in recent years.”
“Russia has invested in the construction of silent submarines … It is important that we understand what is in the sea and at the bottom of the sea so that we can guarantee that we can defend ourselves against any potential aggression,” said the US vice admiral. , which has made it clear that “all countries should be aware” that NATO will deploy submarines and anti-submarine warfare equipment off the islands of Sicily between February 25 and March 8.
The commander of the second permanent naval grouping of NATO, whose flagship – the frigate ‘HNLMS Evertsen’ – hosts the multinational General Staff that oversees the maneuvers, has assured that the allies will do “the maximum to avoid any situation of risk”
“It is a risk that we try to avoid, as soon as we know there is a submarine, we will do our best to avoid any risk situation.” If we are aware that there is a submarine from a non-NATO country in the area where we do exercises, we will keep away “, explained the Dutch commodore, when asked about the risk of collision. “We have procedures to avoid objects on the seabed of whoever they are to keep us safe,” he said, making it clear that “all countries at sea respect” the principles of “security” and “professionalism” in general.
Ten countries of the Atlantic Alliance – Spain, the Netherlands, France, Canada, Germany, Greece, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom – participate in the exercise of NATO with five submarines, nine surface ships, eleven helicopters and six aircraft of maritime patrol, totaling more than 3,000 members of Marina y Aire.
Spain is one of the countries with the most units for maneuvers, including its most modern submarine of the Agosta class, the ESPS ‘Tramontana’, with 67.57 meters of length, a crew of 60 people and is equipped with torpedoes, but no missiles, as well as modernized detection and communications equipment, which, according to Defensa, make it a valuable unit capable of guaranteeing the safety of roads and maritime spaces against current threats.
It also sends the maneuvers to the frigates ‘Santa María’ – currently integrated in the second permanent naval grouping of NATO – and the ‘Blas de Lezo’, an onboard helicopter, as well as a P-3M maritime patrol plane for the exercise.
In addition to Spain, the United Kingdom, Greece, Italy and Turkey will also send submarines and France will also deploy two frigates like Spain. The rest of the nine frigates are contributed by Canada, Greece, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands, which sends to the ‘Evertsen’, and Canada, Germany, France, Turkey and the United States also deploys a maritime patrol aircraft each. The Netherlands, Canada, France, Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom also deploy a helicopter each, such as Spain, and Italy, three.
The allies will perform various exercises to test the different anti-submarine warfare tactics. In large part of the maneuvers, a kind of cat and mouse game, the objective will be to “find submarines” enemy.
“It sounds very easy but it is very difficult to do”, explained the Dutch commodore, who recalled that the submarines “are silent and hide under a layer of water” that varies depending on the temperature of the water and other factors such as salinity and that “many combinations of sensors” of the frigates will be used, but also of the airplanes, helicopters and submarines to try to “detect any noise”.
“The antisubmarine war is extremely complicated, it is an asymmetric task, the challenge is to coordinate a group of ships, planes and possibly submarines to look for another submarine,” added Vice Admiral Lennon, who explained that there will be “scenarios with submarines against submarines. , ships against submarines, submarines against ships and a whole group looking for submarines “, in addition to” aircraft that look for submarines “.
The commander of the NATO Submarines says that “tracking and locating submarines in the ocean is extremely difficult.” “Underwater acoustics are very complex and having sonar capable of finding submarines requires very well trained operators,” he summarized.
One of the exercises contemplates a fleet of frigates, supported by maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters – which can launch sound or passive buoys and, in the case of the latter, also submerge a sonar flush with the water to try to detect The submarines protect a high-value unit from an attempt to attack the submarine.
In another exercise a submarine will have to try to detect first and then manage to track another submarine, while in another the passage of a frigate will be threatened by the presence of a submarine.
The Canadian frigate ‘HMCS Toronto’ is specialized in “finding submarines”. “It is the most specialized unit in antisubmarine warfare”, the Dutch commodore has summarized, who also assured that the Spanish frigates ‘ESPS Blas de Lezo’ and ‘Santa María’ also “contribute a lot” by having “good sound”.
Meanwhile, Vice Admiral Lennon has put in value the deployment of the “best” maritime patrol plane for the exercise, the P-8 of the United States. “It has a huge reach and ability to deploy buoys and tremendous acoustic capabilities,” he said.
The chief of the General Staff, the captain of Spanish frigate Juan Alonso Núñez, has underlined the interest of the allies in making this type of antisubmarine training maneuvers, a “complicated” exercise because each unit will decide its tactics and then analyze “the results of what has been done, why it has been raised like this, what has gone well and what has gone wrong. “
“Some will succeed and others will not, it’s like a football coach, they play the game one way, and one goes well and someone does not do well,” he summarized.