On Friday, May 20, 2022 at 4 p.m., the task force supply ship “Bonn” left her home port. In the Aegean, the crew of 175 and the ship expect to work closely with the Turkish and Greek coast guards and the European Coast Guard and Border Protection Agency (FRONTEX) as part of the Standing Nato Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2).
“Five months after the end of the last mission, we’re starting again, so there wasn’t much time to catch our breath. But the majority are happy that things are starting again now. The new soldiers on board in particular can hardly wait “, describes the commander of the “Bonn”, frigate captain Eike Deußen (48), the mood of his crew.
During the preparation phase for the new mission, the previous mission was prepared at night, repairs and maintenance were carried out on the ship and the crew completed courses. Ship and crew have prepared intensively for their new assignment.
“Of course, the next six months of absence are a long time and saying goodbye to loved ones is always very difficult, but fortunately we can now mostly keep in touch from sea through various channels and we do our best to provide variety on board”, so the commander.
During the port phases shore leave for the crew and also a family reunion are planned. This gives the crew some variety and allows them to relax and recharge their batteries between the sea phases. During the last mission, no shore leave could be granted due to the applicable Corona regulations. The “Bonn” is expected back in Wilhelmshaven in November.
Background information on the support mission in the Aegean
On the initiative of Greece, Turkey and Germany, the NATO defense ministers decided on February 10, 2016 to contribute to European measures against human smuggling in the Aegean. 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 mainland Turkey and Greece. It currently consists of four to seven ships. The ships operate both on the high seas and, since March 2016, in the sovereign waters of both neighboring countries.
NATO provides support in the Aegean sea area – the ships have no sovereign powers. It is not their job to stop vehicles or take action against people smugglers – neither in foreign territorial waters nor on the high seas. Corresponding powers lie with the national coastguards and other competent authorities.
In addition, NATO contributes to the improved exchange of information between the Greek and Turkish coast guards and the European Union border protection agency Frontex for the border and coast guard in the Aegean. The ships deliver information for a complete picture of the situation in the Aegean and about smuggling activities in the sea area to Greek and Turkish authorities. This is necessary in order to optimize the action taken by national authorities against people smugglers and their networks.
Liaison officers from Turkish and Greek authorities and an officer from the European border and coast guard agency Frontex are on board the German lead ship. They are the interface to their organizations and accelerate the flow of information. In this respect, NATO serves as a cooperation platform for the neighboring countries.
With the peak of crossings across the Aegean of around 853,000 people in 2015, the number initially fell very sharply in the following years. In 2019, 83,300 migrants were registered in the Aegean. This includes border crossings by land. From January to the end of May 2020, around 7,800 border crossings were registered.
The Bundeswehr is involved with a warship and the association is led by a sea captain.
Background information on the task force supply “Bonn”
The Navy’s task force supplies are the largest ships in the fleet at 174 meters and displacing around 20,000 tons. The ships of the Berlin class provide task forces at sea with all the necessary resources: fuel, material and ammunition. As multifunctional ships, the task force supply ships, EGV for short, also provide special medical capacity and satellite-based communication technology for management tasks. With such capabilities, these ships make naval formations independent of ports, as their endurance at sea is more than doubled, depending on the size of the formation, worldwide.
The transport capacity of the task force supply includes 230 tons of provisions, almost as much ammunition and 9,500 cubic meters of fuel. The more than 1,300 cubic meters of fresh water on board can be constantly reproduced in drinking water quality by special systems from the sea. The EGV can deliver these supplies to other ships while underway and on the high seas, even to two at the same time.
The hose system that the Berlin class carries on the large, bracket-like device serves to transfer the liquid material. Equally striking are two huge cranes on the upper deck. Their lifting ability allows the supply ship to load containers independently, for example. Another plus: Last but not least: A storage concept with separation of recyclables offers environmentally friendly waste disposal.