NATO starts patrols of Turkish and Greek waters

Image: Frontex
Image: Frontex

German Navy’s combat support ship EGV Bonn, flagship of NATO’s SNMG 2 was the first ship to enter the area of activity for a first patrol around the Greek island of Lesbos last weekend.

In the last days, NATO expanded the area of activity into the territorial waters of Turkey and Greece, in close coordination with both countries. NATO also initiated closer cooperation with the EU’s border agency Frontex.

Rear Admiral Jörg Klein, Commander SNMG2, said: “We are able to support the local authorities with our sensors, amplifying their capabilities. It is absolutely necessary to provide critical information to them, including the Turkish and Greek Coast Guards and the European Border Agency, Frontex to help them deal with the illegal human trafficking networks.”

Monday evening Bonn began her passage into the area between the island of Lesbos and the Turkish coast, while maintaining continuous contact with local authorities. Turkish and Greek liaison officers embarked aboard FGS BONN are facilitating timely information sharing to all involved authorities, further enhancing the effectiveness of the ship’s presence in the area.

Admiral Klein added: “This first patrol has shown that we as a well-trained NATO force are able to start with our task in this area. All the units as well as my multinational staff are well prepared to contribute to the objectives of this mission, which is to help counter the lines of illegal human trafficking and illegal migration in the Aegean Sea.”

At the moment SNMG2 consists of the German flagship FGS Bonn, Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton, Hellenic frigate HS Salamis, Turkish frigate TCG Barbaros and the British landing ship dock (auxiliary) RFA Mounts Bay, which joined the group just two days ago.

SNMG2 was directed to conduct reconnaissance, monitoring, and surveillance activities in the Aegean Sea after NATO defense ministers agreed on a plan of action at a February 11, 2016 meeting in Brussels.