NATO Forces Participate in Sea Breeze Exercise in the Black Sea
(Source: NATO; issued July 22, 2020)
BLACK SEA --- Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) is participating in the bilateral U.S.- Ukraine exercise Sea Breeze 2020, between 20 and 24 July 2020.

SNMG2 is one of four standing groups that comprise the core of the maritime element of the NATO Response Force, and is currently composed of three frigates from Spain (ESPS Alvaro de Bazan, as flagship), Romania (ROS Regina Maria) and Turkey (TCG Yildirim).

Sea Breeze, now in its 20th iteration, is an annual exercise held in the Black Sea off the coast of Ukraine, with ships, aircraft and personnel from Bulgaria, Georgia, Norway, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States participating.

The exercise focuses on multiple warfare areas including air defence, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, and search and rescue and involves more than 2,000 personnel. It builds on the foundation of previous iterations to provide unique training opportunities designed to enhance readiness, improve collaboration, and interoperability.

The success of Sea Breeze is even more remarkable if we consider the extraordinary circumstances derived from COVID-19.

“The professionalism and enthusiasm of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two is being demonstrated day after day, interacting with allied and partner navies in a highly demanding scenario like Sea Breeze,” said Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre of the Spanish Navy, Commander of SNMG2 since 30 June, “The success of Sea Breeze is even more remarkable if we consider the extraordinary circumstances derived from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Sea Breeze 2020 takes place exclusively at sea. This precaution allows units to enhance multinational operational cooperation, while ensuring that crews remain healthy and ready to provide continuous regional security.

This is an annual exercise that began in 1997, bringing Black Sea nations together to train and operate with NATO members to build interoperability and increase capability.

Last week SNMG2 along with the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two participated in the Bulgarian-led maritime exercise with a similar name, Breeze 2020, also held in the Black Sea.

With three Allied nations, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, and two regional partners, Ukraine and Georgia bordering the Black Sea, Standing Naval Group presence in the region is a regular occurrence. Apart from participating in the two exercises, the groups are also conducting maritime security patrols in international waters enhancing maritime situational awareness between Allies and regional partners.

After completion of Sea Breeze and a short visit to Odessa, Ukraine (with minimum interaction with local authorities and population to minimize risks of COVID-19) the Group will conduct a maritime patrol while proceeding towards the Mediterranean Sea to wrap up the second deployment of NATO maritime forces in the Black Sea in 2020.

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VP-47 Participates in Exercise Sea Breeze 2020
(Source: US Navy; issued July 22, 2020)
ODESA, Ukraine --- Sailors assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, alongside maritime forces from eight nations, are participating in the 20th iteration of the Ukrainian-U.S. co-hosted multinational training exercise Sea Breeze in the Black Sea.

Sea Breeze 2020 is taking place from July 20-July 26 and focuses on multiple warfare areas including maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, and search and rescue operations.

“Every participant involved in the exercise is professional, efficient, and responsible,” said Lt. j. g. Hannah Hughes, a Navy pilot assigned to VP-47. “We will all acquire new skills, experience and knowledge because of Sea Breeze.”

The exercise is an annual event designed to enhance interoperability amongst participating nations and strengthen regional security. Beginning in 1997, the exercise brings Black Sea nations together to train and operate with NATO members in the pursuit of building increased capability.

“Sea Breeze serves to build a rock-solid foundation of partnership in the Black Sea,” Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, said during the opening day press conference. “Our ships, aircraft, and personnel train together unified in our goal of maritime security and stability.”

The eight nations participating in Sea Breeze 2020 are Bulgaria, Georgia, Norway, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States.

“Sea Breeze challenges us to hone our skills in real time operations,” said Lt. j. g. Joel Davis, assigned to VP-47. “The events are dynamic, requiring both operational and tactical decision making that not only furthers our own training, but improves the standing relationships with our allies.”

U.S. participation includes one P-8A Poseidon from VP-47 and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78). Total service member participation from the U.S. is approximately 400 Sailors.

VP-47 is currently assigned to commander, Task Force (CTF) 67 and is deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations. CTF 67 is composed of land-based maritime patrol aircraft that operate over the waters of the Mediterranean in anti-submarine reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with joint, allied, and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

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