Sea Shield 19, the largest naval exercise in Romania

Sea Shield 19, the largest multinational naval exercise in Romania’s territorial waters and in the international waters of the Black Sea, was organized by the Romanian Naval Forces between 5 and 13 April 2019. In this year’s exercise took part 14 Romanian military ships and six military ships from Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands, and Turkey, with a total of approximately 2,200 troops, that trained in joint warfare tactics and techniques used against underwater, surface and air threats specific for the Black Sea region.

The exercise scenario was fictitious and aimed at planning and executing a Crisis Response Operation (CRO) under the mandate of a United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSC) in the context of a security environment characterized by symmetrical and asymmetric threats.

Under the leadership and coordination of the Fleet Command were two frigates, two corvettes, two minesweepers, two missile-carrying ships, two Navy divers’ ships, three maritime tugs-boats, a detachment of EOD divers (specialized in the fight against underwater threats), two mobile rocket launch detachments, and other support vessels. There were also specialized structures, like the 243 Radioelectronics and Observation Brigade, the Marine Hydrographic Directorate, the 110 Center for Communications and Information Technology, the Center for Information Technology and Cybernetics that provided specific support, from the shore.

The Romanian Air Force provided MIG 21 LanceR and F-16 fighter jets for defense against air threats, and the US and Turkish naval forces operated with two maritime patrol aircraft.

The Romanian Armed Forces participated in the exercise with a detachment from the 9 Brigade Marasesti, for the protection of the terrestrial communications routes and the port of Constanta.

NATO Maritime Allied Command (MARCOM) has nominated to participate in the “Sea Shield 19” the Navy Grouping (SNMG-2), which operates in the Black Sea since March 28, 2019, comprising ships from Bulgaria, Canada, the Netherlands, Romania, and Turkey. In addition, Greece and Bulgaria are represented in the exercise with one combat ship.

The military ships entered the port of Constanta on Saturday, April 6, 2019, for the official opening of the exercise, in the presence of the Chief of the Naval Forces Staff Vice-Admiral Alexandru Mirsu.

During the two days port of call, official visits were scheduled, as well as meetings to discuss organizational details for the planned sea-going sequences.

All participating ships were out at sea on Monday, April 8, for a week in which they synchronized their efforts to meet the objectives of the SeaShield 19 Multi-Country Exercise.

On the first day of the planned activities at sea, were conducted naval maneuvers and passing through a dredged canal, holding off an attack by hostile ships, as well as firing with onboard artillery systems, like the 76.2 mm caliber cannon. In these training were involved ships from SNMG-2 (Standing NATO Maritime Group): HMNLS Evertsen, HMCS Toronto, TCG Yildirim, BGS Drazki, the multipurpose frigate Regele Ferdinand and BGS Bodri, HS “Ritsos“, the frigate “Marasesti“, the multipurpose corvettes “Barbuneanu” and “Macellariu, the missiles corvettes Zborul and  Pescarusul, the maritime minesweepers Dinescu and Nicolescu, RSC Grozavul and Navy Divers Ship Venus. Port maneuvers were provided by the Viteazul, Vartosul and Voinicul tug-boats.

On the second day of the exercise were executed combat sequences against aerial threats and holding off attacks of the enemy air forces, the role played by aircraft from the Romanian Air and Naval Forces, and by multi-role maritime patrol aircraft from USA (P-8 „Poseidon) and Turkey (P-235). On the third day were executed combat sequences against undersea threats.

Bulgaria, Poland, and the USA had sent officers to the command center of the exercise, Greece sent a mobile team of instructors from NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre (NMIOTC), and Turkey sent a observes team from the Maritime Security Centre Of Excellence (MARSEC COE).

On the last day of „Sea Shield 19”, the complexity level of the instructions was completed with a sequence from another NATO exercise, the medical exercise Vigorous Warrior 19, aimed at training on the procedures and interventions for medical evacuations at sea.

As a first, on Constanta Military Port, on board of Regele Ferdinand frigate was organized an accident with multiple casualties that required air evacuation. Were involved in the exercise specialized medical structures from Romanian Naval Forces, from the Medical Direction of the Romanian Ministry of Defense, from the Department for Emergency Situations of the Minister of Internal Affairs and MILMED COE from Hungary and MARCOM.

Sea Shield is an excellent exercise for the Standing NATO Maritime Group,” said SNMG2 Commander, Commodore Boudewijn Boots. “It offers the opportunity to work together with NATO Allies that border the Black Sea to ensure interoperability and readiness.”

SNMG2 currently consists of flagship Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Evertsen, Bulgarian Navy frigate BGS Drazki, Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Toronto, Romanian Naval Forces frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand and Turkish Navy frigate TCG Yildirim. SNMG2 is conducting a routine patrol in the Black Sea as part of their annual schedule of operations.

Photo: Romanian Navy

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