Black Sea (II): “NATO is Committed to Ensuring the Security of the Member States”

The frigate’s captain Juan Luis Benavides is the commander of the frigate “Victoria” (F-82), which since Monday participates in the biggest maneuvers this year NATO in the Black Sea.

This Friday concludes the so-called “Sea Shield” exercise, which brought together in international waters and under Romanian leadership 21 ships, four British Typhoon Eurofighter fighter aircraft and five helicopters and maritime surveillance aircraft, including the American P-8A Poseidon ( especially feared by submarines).

In addition to improving the interoperability of the naval forces of NATO in the area (Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria), “Sea Shield” aims to show Russia the determination of the allied countries to defend their interests by sending their naval groups.

The illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 keeps the concern in Bucharest and Sofia. The Black Sea is once again a zone of conflict. Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Russia complete the melting pot of coastal countries to which we must add the areas of Russian influence in Abkhazia, Crimea, Donbass and Transnistria.

From the Romanian frigate “Regele Ferdinand” I attend a disembarkation exercise that had as its protagonist “Victoria”. We also talked with the officer of the Spanish Navy:

What is the objective of the Sea Shield exercise?

– The “Sea Shield ”  exercise is a multinational training that poses a crisis management scenario in the maritime field. The host country is Romania and it has the participation of ships and aircraft from Bulgaria, Spain, the United States, Greece, the United Kingdom, Romania and Turkey. The fundamental objectives are the improvement of the enlistment and the operative capacities of the units, interoperability and mutual understanding. Likewise, the exercise pursues the practice of doctrine, tactics and procedures in the different areas of the maritime war, as well as exercising standard operating procedures and communications in support of naval forces in crisis management operations.

– What role does the frigate play in the exercise?

– The «Victoria» and its SH-60B helicopter, belonging to the 10th Aircraft Squadron, plays a very active role during the maneuvers. The Spanish frigate is framed in one of the five “Task Groups” of “Sea Shield”, participating in the different antisubmarine, antiaircraft or surface war exercises, leading some of them. In turn, the “Victoria” Tour and Record Bunch (TVR) made an approach to another vessel of the group.

– How is the integration in the naval group that leads the destroyer HMS Duncan? What other missions or exercises do you have planned?

– The integration of “Victoria” in SNMG-2 is part of Spain’s commitment to NATO and its allies. Its main mission is to cover the defense needs of the countries of the Alliance in the face of any threat, to support deterrence and crisis management, as well as to improve interoperability and cooperation with friendly countries. The fact of being part of the basic element of the Very Quick Response Force (VJTF-M) of NATO implies a continuous effort on the part of the endowment to maintain the maximum degree of enlistment and training, and this is noted in the activities programmed day by day at sea. In addition, as we had been doing before traveling through the Turkish Straits in demand of the Black Sea,» Fight against terrorism and illicit activities at sea, thus contributing to maritime security and international stability. The ship faces the final stretch of the deployment, having planned to return to the central and eastern Mediterranean, ending the integration in the SNMG-2 later this month.

Boarding exercise of the frigate «Victoria», in the A Marine registers a suspect

– What is the current situation in the Black Sea from the point of view of security and defense?

– The Black Sea is a region of great strategic importance for all coastal countries, and in recent years Russia has tried to modify its borders by force. Three NATO countries border the Black Sea, and also constitutes an international maritime route. For this reason, the deployment of SNMG-2 units in these waters is part of the Alliance’s commitment to guarantee freedom of navigation for all nations and the security of member states.

– Have you had any «run-in» with Russian planes, ships or submarines?

– Since we joined the SNMG-2 on March 2, we have not had any “clashes” with Russian units.

– Does the passage through the Straits of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles from the military point of view have something of particular significance?

– Transit through the Turkish Straits is governed by the Montreux Convention and is managed by the Turkish authorities. This convention limits the passage of military ships from non-coastal countries through these straits to a certain number and displacement. In addition, the stay in the Black Sea of warships of non-coastal countries can not exceed 21 days.

– From the operational point of view how the frigates of the F-80 class operate? With what capabilities do they count?

– The class F-80 frigates are the veterans of the Navy and, in the case of the “Victoria”, with 30 years of service to Spain recently completed, which brings a huge previous experience in this type of deployments with the Alliance and in other naval operations. The vessel is designed to perform escort functions (protection of valuable units) and maritime interdiction operations. It is equipped with a variety of sensors that allow it to maintain aerial, surface and submarine surveillance. It has the capability of confrontation with missiles («Standard» and «Harpoon»), assembly, torpedoes, and deployment of decoys. It also has communication systems in SHF (satellite), UHF, VHF and HF, which allow it to have the different communications and command and control systems, so necessary for the performance of the mission.



Source: ABC Blogs