This blog post was written by Rear Admiral Ted Carter, Commander Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG 12), operating in the Mediterranean Sea under operational control of Commander, 6th Fleet, following the completion of a passing exercise or PASSEX with the ships of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.
This evening we wrapped up a PASSEX, with Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1. Let me first give you a little background on SNMG, the importance of such exercises, and why this experience will stay with me, and I’m certain the Sailors and Marines of ENTCSG, forever.
The Standing NATO Maritime Groups are a multinational, fully integrated maritime force made up of ships from various allied countries. There are currently four such SNMGs who are permanently available to NATO and work closely with other organizations such as the European Union (EU) and the Combined Maritime Force (CMF) to perform different tasks ranging from participating in exercises to actually supporting maritime security missions, such as counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden.
These SNMGs deploy in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and are made up of a number of NATO nations. SNMG1, with whom we operated, consists of four to five frigates- HNLMS De Ruyter, (Netherlands), the flagship of the Group; HMCS Charlottetown (Canada), and FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (Germany), and ESPPS Alvara de Bazan (Spain).
The purpose of our PASSEX was to demonstrate that our ENTCSG ships and aircraft could also effectively integrate with the SNMGs to accomplish our shared goal of maintaining the safety and security of our world’s sea lanes. And tonight, I think we hit it out of the park! If you are a part of the Big E family, past or present, you should be very proud of your Sailors and Marines, who proved themselves during this very important multinational exercise.
In perfect coordination with C6F staff, ENTCSG completed multiple exercises from shiphandling and maneuvering evolutions and an air defense exercise to a “cross-pol” (cross pollinate) where Sailors from each of the ships spent the day visiting the ships of other nations in the SNMG. I personally visited, the Dutch Frigate HNLMS De Ruyter, the “flag ship” of Commodore Ben Bekkering, RNLN, where we toured the Ops Center and the Bridge (while along side during an UNREP with USNS Supply) enjoyed dinner conversation about the capabilities and, more importantly, challenges that we face within our respective Navies. We chatted about the events we have scheduled in the weeks and months ahead, and the missions we expect to execute side-by-side in the near future.
Exercises such as this also help us build common knowledge of maritime tactics, professionalism, cultural understanding and trust. This PASSEX highlights our growing partnerships and efforts to seek cooperative solutions contributing to maritime security in the region…a goal I know our Sailors and Marines of the ENTCSG are completely dedicated and committed to accomplishing.
I’m proud to report that in just 2 days at sea, I strongly believe we successfully strengthened the bonds between the United States and our NATO allies as we work toward mutual goals… goals such as combating piracy and terrorism, protecting international shipping, and aiding in humanitarian relief efforts.. I am particularly grateful for the exceptional planning and coordination with the SIXTH Fleet Staff- they made all of the coordination between ENTCSG and SNMG-1 seamless and set the conditions for success.
In today’s world, the importance of international naval partnerships cannot be denied… particularly when 70 percent of the world’s surface is covered in water. Realizing that not one single nation or navy can secure this vital resource alone, we and our NATO allies have an important mission. Together, we are stronger and more capable. Our U.S. Navy has understood this concept for decades, and now Enterprise and the rest of the strike group will build on this as we sail on with Enterprise’s historic 22nd and final deployment.
RDML Ted “Slapshot” Carter
Commander, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group