ATLANTIC OCEAN – Ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) recently completed passing exercises with the Royal Moroccan Navy (RMN) off the coast of Casablanca following the Group’s visit to the city.

Led by Rear Adm. Brad Williamson (USA), SNMG2 is currently comprised of the U.S. flagship USS Vicksburg (CG 69), Canadian ship HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337), Italian ship ITS Aliseo (F 547), German oiler FGS Spessart (A 1442), Turkish ship TCG Goksu (F 497) and French oiler FS Marne (A 630).

RMN ships RMNS Allal ben Abdellah (F 615) and RMNS Hassan II (F 612) participated in the exercises at sea. The exercises were designed to train ships’ personnel to rapidly integrate and operate as a cohesive force. The training included communications drills to ensure the units could share information, manoeuvering drills to practice ship handling in close proximity, and boarding exercises between ships.

The second day of the exercise was slightly impacted by low visibility due to fog cover which presented a valuable training opportunity.

“Even though the weather conditions slowed our exercises down a bit, I think all of our units received added training because of the weather,” said Williamson. “We can’t schedule fog like we saw during the exercise, and those sorts of conditions are perfect training opportunities to teach our crews how to maneuver and operate with other ships in extremely low visibility.”

Williamson embarked aboard Hassan II during the exercise to watch the training from a different vantage point.

“These exercises were incredibly valuable for NATO, and I am extremely honoured to have trained with our partners in the Royal Moroccan Navy,” said Williamson. “The professionalism and precision in which they operate their ships truly impressed me. NATO’s partner nations are critical to the security of the Mediterranean and we welcome their robust participation with NATO in the future.”

Since Williamson assumed command of SNMG2 in July 2014, the group has deployed to the North American coast, participated in Exercise Noble Justification in the Mediterranean, supported NATO’s counter-terrorism mission Operation Active Endeavour, and deployed to the Black Sea.

NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue was initiated in 1994 by the North Atlantic Council. It currently involves seven non-NATO countries of the Mediterranean region: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.

NATO values its partnership with Morocco through the Mediterranean Dialogue, which our collective maritime security and interoperability have been enhanced through port visits, military to military engagements, and shared exercises. This cooperative engagement enhances the ability of NATO and its partners to respond to crisis situations in a cohesive, rapid, and effective manner.

Morocco is one of five non-NATO members to have signed memorandums of understanding to support Operation Active Endeavour through the exchange of information and by providing liaison officers to the mission. Partnerships enable both parties to gain more security together than the Alliance or its partners could achieve on our own.