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Standing NATO Maritime Group Two visits Haifa and trains with Israel forces


According to information published by NATO on February 17, 2021, standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) has recently completed a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) with Israeli Navy units in the Eastern Mediterranean. This PASSEX concludes the collaboration between SNMG2 units and the Israeli Navy after a three-day port visit to Haifa, Israel, between 12-15 February 2021.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 ESPS Cristobal Colon (Flag Ship), ITS Fasan and HS Kountouriotis (Picture source: Twitter)


During their stay in Haifa, coordination meetings between SNMG2 and Israeli Navy representatives were carried out under strict COVID-19 prevention measures. Engagements included briefings to Israeli Navy about NATO standard procedures including towing ship manoeuvres, among others.

On 15 February, SNMG2 units along with INS Kidon and INS Sufa departed Haifa and executed a serialised schedule of exercises. The PASSEX concluded with a ‘sail-past’ to wish farewell to the units involved in the exercise.

"This PASSEX has been the second interaction between the Israeli Navy and NATO in less than three months. The cooperation between NATO and partners like Israel are essential to contribute to NATO’s success and increase the security of the international community. Sharing information as well as exercising together are essential tools to reach interoperability, reinforce cohesion and build trust between NATO and its partners", said Rear Admiral Manuel Aguirre, Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

SNMG2 is currently composed by ESPS Cristobal Colon (Flag Ship), ITS Fasan and HS Kountouriotis.

SNMG2 will resume its program of activities in the Mediterranean, including participation in Dynamic Manta 2021, a major NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise, support to NATO Operation Sea Guardian as well as continued cooperation with Allied and partner navies.
SNMG2 is one of four standing 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 these groups, with the NATO command staff on board and the ships of the Group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.

Cristóbal Colón is the fifth and last ship of the Álvaro de Bazán-class of air defence frigates entering service with the Spanish Navy. The ship is named after Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer that claimed the discovery of America in the name of the Crown of Castile. It is the most modern ship of the Spanish Navy.

Virginio Fasan (F 591) is a Carlo Bergamini-class frigate of the Italian Navy. Which in turn were developed by the FREMM multipurpose frigate program.

HNLMS Kortenaer (F807) was a frigate of the Kortenaer class. The ship was in service with the Royal Netherlands Navy from 1978 to 1997 and today serves as HS Kountouriotis with the Hellenic Navy . The frigate was initially named after Dutch naval hero Egbert Bartholomeusz Kortenaer and then after Pavlos Kountouriotis.