Turkish-led exercise Mavi Balina 2016 concludes in the Med

Ships from several nations concluded their participation in the Turkish-led exercise Mavi Balina in the Mediterranean Sea.

Participating nations included Pakistan, Romania, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO Maritime Group 2, as well as observers from Algeria, Nigeria, and Georgia also participated.

During the first phase of the exercise conducted in Aksaz, Turkey, November 19-22, participants met to carry out final planning and interoperability training.

Ships got underway on November 23 to begin the at-sea phase of the exercise. While the main focus was on anti-submarine warfare, Mavi Balina 2016 also included simulated small boat attacks, anti-air warfare exercises, surface maneuvering drills, communication drills, and visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) events. In total, 12 surface vessels, five submarines, and multiple aircraft from seven nations participated in the at-sea phase.

U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) was also one of the ships taking part in the exercise.

During the planning phase, Cmdr. Peter Halvorsen, commanding officer of USS Carney, hosted Rear Adm. Bulent Turan, commander, Turkish submarine group, aboard Carney for a tour. He visited with Rear Adm. Ali Cekic, commander, Naval Base Aksaz; and Rear Adm. Levant Kerim, commander, Southern Task Group. Additionally, members of Carney’s wardroom attended multiple planning events and a reception held at the Turkish naval base in Aksaz.

Carney participated in cross-decking between ships during the at-sea phase, which is a sharing of officers to strengthen relationships, build long-term links between future leaders, and enhance interoperability. While participating in Mavi Balina 2016, Carney sent officers to Charlottetown and Gelibolu. In turn, Carney hosted officers from these ships.

“I was extremely proud of the professionalism and performance of not only my Sailors, but all those who were involved in Mavi Balina. I have confidence that the friendships and tactical proficiency we built during the exercise exceeded the goals of Mavi Balina 2016 and built a strong foundation for combined interoperability in the future,” Halvorsen said. “The cross-deck process is so critically important to building friendships that last a career. Twelve years ago, I myself cross-decked to [Canadian frigate HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339)] during a deployment in 5th Fleet, so walking aboard her while moored alongside was like visiting an old friend.”

“It is important to come together and to work in concert with each other. When we work together, it makes us stronger as allies,” Ensign Ahmet Serdar Yavuz, from Turkish frigate TCG Gelibolu (F 493) said.