NATO’s Standing Naval Forces participated in Mare Aperto/Italian Mine Exercise 23 (ITA MINEX 23) in the Mediterranean, April 13-28.

ITA MINEX is an annual mine countermeasures (MCM) exercise led by the Italian Navy that aims to improve staff and crew performance in planning and conducting MCM operations in a realistic, multi-threat and challenging scenario. Like in latest editions, ITA MINEX has been integrated into the wider context of “Mare Aperto”, the main naval exercise of the Italian Navy.
Mare Aperto-ITA-MINEX provided a great training opportunity to all participants in realistic and challenging conditions
Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) and Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 participated in the exercise, which included complex scenarios incorporating asymmetric threats, as well as maneuvering and communication drills.

SNMCMG2 comprised Turkish Navy flagship TCG Yzb. Gungor Durmus, minehunters Greek Navy HS Evropi, Italian Navy ITS Alghero and Spanish Navy ESPS Tajo.

“Mare Aperto-ITA-MINEX provided a great training opportunity to all participants in realistic and challenging conditions,” said Commander, SNMCMG2 Turkish Navy Captain Ahmet Serhat Akyazi. “We pushed our limits both in planning and executing the mine countermeasures operations and training at every phase of the ITA MINEX, enabling SNMCMG2 to maintain a high level of readiness. All units made an outstanding effort working together and deserve the highest praise.”

SNMG2 also joined the exercise, with Italian Navy ITS Thaon di Revel playing on the opposing force side. The exercise offered a highly realistic simulation of a NATO Article 5 operation and provided a valuable training opportunity for the crew of ITS Thaon di Revel. The ship and its crew tested their capabilities in a complex multi-domain scenario, while employing new technologies. Simultaneously, the scenario included internal training activities such as ship-handling and maneuvering, damage control exercises, and flight operations.

“This kind of mine warfare exercise gives units the opportunity to improve their mine warfare skills, interoperability and mutual understanding,” Serhat Akyazi said. “All units participating in the exercise demonstrated the value of ‘We are stronger together.’”

SNMCMG2 and SNMG2 are two of four Standing Naval Forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations, additional forces can be added to this group, with the NATO command staff on board the Flagship capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.