On Wednesday, July 19 at 1.30 p.m., the task force supplier (EGV) “Frankfurt am Main” departed under the command of frigate captain Hanno Weisensee (47) his home port Wilhelmshaven with a course to the northeastern Mediterranean. In the Aegean, the crew and the ship expect close cooperation with the Turkish and Greek coastguards and the European Agency for Coast Guard and Border Protection (FRONTEX) as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2).

“The ‘NATO support ÄGÄIS’ mission is very important to us. After an extensive repair phase and the gradual deployment training of the crew, we are satisfied that we can again fulfill our actual order, “says Commander Weisensee. “As part of this mission, this means that we have the mandate to contribute to the acquisition of information and the building of the situation in relation to migration movements and smuggling activities,” he continues.

In addition to the regular crew, additional staff from different areas are embarked. The largest proportion is made up of the staff and additional medical personnel. Among them are young officers and officers. The regular staff is also supplemented by crew members of the sister ship, the “Bonn. During the mission, Turkish and Greek liaison officers, as well as FRONTEX officials, will also board the German warship. They are the interface to their organizations and thus accelerate the flow of information.
The “Frankfurt am Main” in Wilhelmshaven is expected back in November.

The NATO Defense Ministers on the initiative of Greece, Turkey and Germany on 10. February 2016 decided to contribute to European measures against smuggling in the Aegean. For this purpose, the operational group of the Standing NATO-Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) was sent to the Aegean Sea area. The task force is used 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 a supporting body in the Aegean Sea region – the ships have no sovereign powers. It is not their job to stop vehicles or act against smugglers – neither in foreign territorial waters nor on the high seas. The national coast guards and other competent authorities have the appropriate powers.

NATO also 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 provide information for a complete situation picture in the Aegean and about the smuggling activities in the sea area to Greek and Turkish places. This is necessary to optimize the actions of the national authorities against tugs and their networks.

With the peak of crossings across the Aegean from 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. The border crossings by land are included. Around 7,800 border crossings were registered from January to the end of May 2020.