HMCS Halifax participates in Norwegian Exercise with SNMG1
By LCdr Mark Fifield,
SNMG1 Public Affairs Officer
From February 8-19, 2020 Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1), took part in Task Group 21-1 (TG 21-1), an annual maritime exercise conducted by the Royal Norwegian Navy in the waters and fjords off the coast of Bergen, Norway.
TG 21-1 supported the training and qualification of NATO future submarine commanders while enhancing the surface and underwater warfighting skills of the participating 11 warships and submarines from six allied nations: Canada, Denmark France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. These vessels were joined by numerous smaller aircraft and helicopters, including the embarked maritime helicopter air detachments on board vessels such as the SNMG1 flagship, HMCS Halifax, and HDMS Hvidbjørnen.
These training exercises were designed to increase allied readiness and interoperability, as well as the capability to conduct various high-intensity operations in the challenging Norwegian littoral and Arctic environment which consists of high mountains and narrow fjords.
“Our aim is to provide first class training within anti-submarine warfare (ASW) as well as realistic scenarios for submarines,” said Rear Admiral Rune Andersen, Chief of the Royal Norwegian Navy. “It is vital that we develop and maintain our basic warfighting skills, and that we do it together. The participation of SNMG1 adds value and improves the quality of the training.”
During TG 21-1, NATO was represented by the SNMG1 composed of Royal Canadian Navy frigate and SNMG1 flagship Halifax, German Navy tanker Spessart, French Navy frigate Latouche-Tréville and Royal Norwegian Navy frigate Fridtjof Nansen.
“TG 21-1 provided excellent and unique training opportunities for SNMG1, especially with respect to validating our ASW tactics, techniques and procedures,” explained Commodore Bradley Peats, commander of SNMG1.
“It was a privilege to have taken part in such a robust training exercise which is renowned as being among the very best in the world. These exercises clearly demonstrate NATO’s collective capabilities and responsiveness to a continuously evolving security environment in the region.”
As TG 21-1 was conducted during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, strict force health protection measures and other mitigation protocols were put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection among participating vessels and any resulting impacts on operations and training. This included hosting a virtual pre-sail conference and prohibiting non-essential physical interaction between foreign crews and local assets. When such interactions were deemed necessary, mask wearing, physical distancing and other measures were employed to the fullest extent possible.
Following TG 21-1, SNMG1 turned to the annual NATO exercise Dynamic Guard 21-1, which focuses on air defence and electronic warfare. Dynamic Guard 21-1 was a week-long exercise which was linked with TG 21-1 and began on February 22 in the coastal area north of Bergen around the Fedje island.