On Monday, August 16, 2021 at 10 o’clock, the motto for the frigate “Schleswig-Holstein” and its crew is “cast off”. She is leaving her home port of Wilhelmshaven to join the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2). When it arrives in the Aegean Sea, it will take over from the “Lübeck” frigate, which will then begin its journey home to Germany.
The commander of the ship, frigate captain Andreas Mückusch (44), is looking forward to making a contribution with his crew as part of the NATO association: “I am proud, as the commander of the frigate ‘Schleswig-Holstein’, our ship and its through and through After a long period of time, the motivated crew to lead them back into an operational mission. Extensive waiver of shore leave and the elimination of the usual family reunification certainly mean additional hardship for the crew. However, we are pleased to have the German colors within the NATO association in the Aegean as the flagship to represent. ”
In the Aegean Sea, the class F123 ship and the crew expect close cooperation with the Turkish and Greek coast guards as well as the European Agency for Coast Guard and Border Protection (FRONTEX). The main task of the frigate will be the surveillance of the sea.
The “Schleswig-Holstein” will remain in the operational area over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The return to the home port Wilhelmshaven is planned for the beginning of February 2022.
On February 10, 2016, on the initiative of Greece, Turkey and Germany, the NATO defense ministers decided to contribute to European measures against human smuggling in the Aegean Sea. For this purpose, the task force of the Standing NATO-Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) was sent to the sea area of the Aegean Sea. The task force is deployed in the Aegean Sea between the Turkish and Greek mainland. It currently consists of four to seven ships. The ships operate both on the high seas and, since March 2016, in the territorial waters of both neighboring countries.
NATO is providing support in the Aegean sea area – the ships have no sovereign powers. It is not their job to stop vehicles or take action against smugglers – neither in foreign territorial waters nor on the high seas. The national coastguards and other competent authorities have the appropriate powers.
In addition, NATO is helping to improve the exchange of information between the Greek and Turkish coast guards and the European Union border protection agency Frontex for the border and coast guards in the Aegean Sea. The ships provide information for a complete picture of the situation in the Aegean Sea and about the smuggling activities in the sea area to Greek and Turkish authorities. This is necessary in order to optimize the action taken by the national authorities against smugglers and their networks.
Liaison officers from Turkish and Greek authorities as well as an officer from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex are on board the German lead ship. They are the interface to your organizations and accelerate the flow of information. In this regard, NATO serves as a cooperation platform for the neighboring countries.
With the peak of the crossings over the Aegean Sea of around 853,000 people in 2015, the number initially fell sharply in the following years. In 2019, 83,300 migrants were registered in the Aegean Sea. This includes border crossings by land. Around 7,800 border crossings were registered between January and the end of May 2020.
The Bundeswehr participates with a warship and the association is led by a sea captain.