November 3, 2018 (Google Translation) – Mine countermeasures vessel Vahterpää conducted NEL 2 (NATO Evaluation Level 2) which is the highest level of the NATO evaluation process during the NOCO 2018 Exercise. The evaluation on Vahterpää covered all three of the identical vessels of the Katanpää class.
The NATO NEL 2 evaluation conducted on mine countermeasures vessel Vahterpää in the first week of the NOCO 18 Exercise took the entire vessel class a significant step closer to full operational readiness.
The evaluation conducted on one of the three vessels of the class covered also sister vessels Katanpää and Purunpää, because the vessels are identical and the personnel have received equivalent training.
The NEL 2 evaluation is part of NATO’s OCC E&F concept (Operational Capabilities, Concept Evaluation and Feedback), which aims at determining if a unit is ready or operate in NATO-led operations.
The NEL 2 evaluation largely involves the knowhow of the personnel whom the evaluation team assigned by NATO examine both by interviews and observing exercises in practice. This five-member evaluation team deployed on board mine countermeasures vessel Vahterpää when NOCO 18’s Pre Sail Conference took place in Turku. They interviewed the crew members and observed exercises on the vessel throughout the first week of the exercise.
On the vessel, the crew got prepared for the evaluation by examining the results of the self-evaluation conducted last year. Other than that, the evaluation did not cause any actual measures.
The training carried out on the entire vessel class has been aimed at passing these evaluations. In any case, the operations on board the vessels conform to NATO standards. We performed normal procedures; nothing new as such, mine countermeasures vessel Vahterpää’s Captain, Lieutenant Commander Mika Hartemo explains.
The official results of the evaluation will be available within a month or so, but before leaving the vessel, the evaluation team gave verbal feedback.
The evaluation may result in certification, even if some individual items were marked as items to be improved.
It is the overall performance that is decisive, Hartemo points out.
NEL 2 will be valid for three years, unless the vessel participates in a NATO-led operation during this time period. A need for re-evaluation might arise, among other things, due to the probability of changes in the crew along the years.
After NEL2, the road of the Katanpää class to full operational readiness will continue next year through a MOST evaluation (Mine Countermeasure Vessels Operational Sea Training). It will involve training organised by the NATO Naval Mine Warfare School, and it will focus specifically on mine countermeasures competency.