Belfast Telegraph

NATO warships dock in Belfast for brief Northern Ireland visit

By Rebecca Black

An extra special duo of visitors in the shape of two NATO warships are visiting Belfast.

The trio, led by group flagship, Norwegian frigate Roald Amundsen and Spanish frigate ESPS Reina Sofia arrived in Northern Ireland on Thursday night at Pollock Dock for a brief port visit during which they will meet with local leaders as well as enjoy a mini break in Belfast this weekend.

The ships are part of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and fresh from completing their participation in the UK’s tri-service multinational exercise Joint Warrior 17-1 (JW 171) off the north west coast of Scotland.

Read more: Belfast hosting fleet of Nato warships for the weekend

During that exercise the ships worked with nearly 30 highly capable warships and submarines from more than 10 allied and partnering countries.

The idea of the exercise Joint Warrior is to provide a range of scenarios and unique challenges to the command team, and to each ship, giving the ships and crews opportunities to sharpen their warfighting capabilities.

Commodore Ole Morten Sandquist, Commander SNMG1, exercised command over three additional warships during the exercise; Danish command and support ship HDMS Absalon and HDMS Vaedderen as well as German oiler FGS Bonn.

He described it as “challenging” training for the group.

“Joint Warrior was very well planned and executed,” he said.

“It provided a range of challenging scenarios that could realistically be encountered in operations.

“Together with professional and highly skilled counterparts, it gave us challenging and good training for use in a combined joint task force.  “We entered the exercise as a group of ships at a high level of readiness but left in even better shape. I am very pleased with the outcome of the exercise.”

SNMG1 is one of four standing maritime forces composed of ships from various allied countries. These vessels are permanently available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from participation in exercises to operational missions. They also serve as an oncall maritime force as a part of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).

SNMG1’s main area of operation is to the North Atlantic, including the Baltic Sea. Their main objective is to provide immediate maritime capability to the NATO Alliance, enhancing maritime situational awareness, demonstrate solidarity, conduct routine diplomatic visits, exhibiting forward presence and contributing to operational interoperability among Allied naval forces to support greater regional security and stability.

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