News from EUROMARFOR
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September 22, 2023
SPANISH COMEUROMARFOR PERIOD OF COMMAND - 2 YEARS

SEPTEMBER 22, 2023

SPAIN TWO YEARS IN COMMAND

Last 2021 on the morning 22nd September, in a ceremony on board LHD “Juan Carlos I”, the Admiral of the Fleet (ALFLOT), Eugenio Díaz del Río Jaudenes,  assumed command of the European Maritime Force (EUROMARFOR) as COMEUROMARFOR.

The ceremony was chaired by the Spanish Chief of the Navy General Staff with the presence of the Admirals of the Fleet of the countries belonging to EUROMARFOR (EMF).

COVID’19 Pandemic had a great effect and impact on EMF’s Activities Programs between 2019 and 2020 with the cancellation of most exercises and other planned activities, but COMEUROMARFOR pointed out and emphasised that EMF continues to be a mature and useful tool at the disposal of our nations, capable of defending our legitimate interest at sea, alone or in conjunction with the EU, NATO, the UN or any other international organization.

EMF has a relevant role in cooperation with the countries of the southern Mediterranean and West Africa, which constitute a scenario whose strategic importance for Europe is growing progressively.

COMEUROMARFOR stressed out the need to maintain a high level of training for guaranteeing the effectiveness of the EMF on as many occasions as required.

A Fleet Commanders Meeting took place the same day, gathering all the four Fleet Commanders. During it, they had the chance to discuss the current situation and the possible future commitments of EMF, taking into account the actual geopolitical scenarios and the participation in Real Word Operations (RWO), agreeing in uprising the use and commitment of this European Naval Force as a common tool.

ACHIEVING THE OBJECTIVES

In order to EMF prosecute its objectives and  to achieve and maintain the units required training level as adequate for the integration of EMF in RWO, COMEUROMARFOR through EMF Permanent Cell, established some Lines of Action (LoA) aligned with the EMF Activity Plan 2020 – 2022 and 2022 – 2024:

EMF was planned to participate in the following exercises:

  • SEABIT 21-2;
  • FLOTEX 21 (with a Task Group);
  • SEABIT 22-1;
  • ESP MINEX 22 (with a Task Group);
  • FLOTEX 22 (with a Task Group);
  • SEABIT 22-2;
  • ACTIVATION IN THE GULF OF GUINEA;
  • SEABIT 23-1;
  • EUROMARFOR DIVEX23;
  • ESP MINEX23;
  • FLOTEX 23;
  • CONTEX/PHIBEX23.

SEA BIT

This is a programmed exercise, conducted by the Maritime Action Operations and Surveillance Centre (COVAM), located at the Maritime Action Force Headquarters in Cartagena – Spain, with the participation of the Maritime Operations Centres (MOC) of the four EUROMARFOR nations (France, Italy, Portugal and Spain) as well as several ships at sea.

The aim of this exercise is to enhance cooperation between EMF Maritime Operations Centres through the exchange of information in order to ensure a common maritime security awareness (MSA) and promote the legitimate use of the sea.

The exercise was conceived as a Computer Assisted exercise (CPX/ CAX) although it is open to the participation of units of opportunity at sea, which can collaborate with the MOCs, through the exchange of tracks information.

FLOTEX

FLOTEX is an annual maritime live advanced exercise, sponsored by the Spanish Fleet and is carried out mostly in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Sea.

This exercise covers the main warfare areas, providing training opportunities to surface ships, Mine Countermeasures, submarines, aircraft and amphibious forces.

Its main objective is to train participant units and headquarters in planning and execution of an ESP Navy led Maritime LIVEX, in a Joint Maritime Expeditionary Operation limited to low/medium intensity with some high intensity peaks, covering the main warfare areas.

ESP MINEX

ESP MINEX is an advanced mine warfare exercise that usually takes place in the waters of the Balearic Islands (Majorca and Menorca). EUROMARFOR participated in order to increase the cooperation between the four EMF nations in the field of mine warfare, the exchange of know-how between mine warfare experts allowing each country to advance in this domain.

This evolving exercise provides realistic training in mine risk reduction in the presence of an asymmetric threat, as close as possible to allied coastlines.

This evolving exercise provides realistic training in mine risk reduction in the presence of an asymmetric threat, as close as possible to allied coastlines.

EUROMARFOR DIVEX

In 2023 EUROMARFOR was activated for the first time in a dedicated diving exercise: DIVEX23 was, hosted by Portugal; the purpose of this activation was to participate in the international Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Diving Exercise DIVEX 23 that started in 20th of March.

For this exercise attended 3 clearance diving units:

  • Diving Unit “Gruppo Operativo Subacquei” (GOS) from Italian navy;
  • Diving Unit “Buceadores de Medidas Contra Minas” (UBMCM) from the Spanish navy
  • Diving Unit “Destacamento de Mergulhadores Sapadores n.º 3”, from the Portuguese navy.

Once more, even in a different environment, this activation represented an unequalled opportunity for nations to build confidence and knowledge working with each other, fostering interoperability amongst EUROMARFOR nations, creating a common environment to conduct combined diving Mine Counter Measures operations with the same focus, the Maritime Security.

Specialized in military diving, the main scope was the Submarine Explosive Ordnance Disposal, carrying out operations mainly in Mine Warfare environment and in support of amphibious operations.

Since the creation of EUROMARFOR in 1995, this is the first time that a MCM Diving TG is activated in order to work together and focus on their specific tasks.

CONTEX/PHIBEX

CONTEX/PHIBEX23 is the largest maritime exercise organized by Portuguese Navy.

EUROMARFOR participated with an Escort Task Group composed by Spanish Navy frigate ESPS “SANTA MARÍA” (flagship), Italian Navy frigate ITS “MARGOTTINI” and Portuguese Navy oceanic patrol vessel NRP “SINES”.

This was the eighth time that EUROMARFOR was activated to participate in a Portuguese Navy major exercise, CONTEX/PHIBEX.

This exercise has a challenging and dynamic schedule of events, to enhance the readiness show-casing, the skills and capabilities of the force as well as his contribute to maintaining an unparalleled level of interoperability while facing all the possible threat to common maritime security.

SOME NUMBERS

 

ACTIVITY

ASSETS

PEOPLE

DAYS

SEABIT 21-2

Maritime Operations Centre (FRA, ITA, PRT and ESP)

32

1

SEABIT 22-1

Maritime Operations Centre (FRA, ITA, PRT and ESP)

32

1

FLOTEX 21

2 frigates: ESPS “Blaz de Lezo” and ITS “Rizzo”

329

15

ESP MINEX 22

4 Minehunters: ESPS “Tajo”, ESPS “Segura”, ESPS “Sella”, FS “Andromede”

209

15

FLOTEX 22

2 frigates: ESPS “Victoria” and ITS “Rizzo”

338

15

SEABIT 22-2

Maritime Operations Centre (FRA, ITA, PRT and ESP)

32

1

PASSEX GoG

3 navy ships:

  • ESPS “Audaz” (Spanish Navy “Armada”)
  • FS “PM L’HER” (French Navy “Marine Nationale”)
  • ITS “Comandante Foscari” (Italian Navy “Marina Militare”)

205

1

SEABIT 23-1

Maritime Operations Centre (FRA, ITA, PRT and ESP) and 4 navy ships:

  • ESPS “Audaz” (Spanish Navy “Armada”)
  • FS “PM L’HER” (French Navy “Marine Nationale”)
  • ITS “Comandante Foscari” (Italian Navy “Marina Militare”)
  • NRP “Zaire” (Portuguese Navy “Marinha Portuguesa”

238

1

EUROMARFOR DIVEX 23

3 clearance divers teams

60

5

ESP MINEX23

3 Spanish Navy minehunters (ESPS “Segura”, “Sella” and “Duero”), 1 French minehunter (FS “Lyre”), 1 Italian minehunter (ITS “Viareggio”)

210

15

FLOTEX 23

3 frigates: ESPS “Santa Maria”, ITS “Comandante Foscari” and FS “Chevalier Paul”.

440

15

CONTEX/PHIBEX23

3 navy ships: ESPS “Santa María”, ITS “Margottini” and NRP “Sines”

430

12

TOTAL

2350

97

 

 

SUPPORTING EUROMARFOR

EMF PERMANENT CELL (EMF PC)

This cell has a Staff that guarantees the continuity of planning and liaison with National Naval Authorities (NNA) and National CHOD´s; it is posted close to the COMEUROMARFOR, and has one officer for each participating nation (French Navy, Italian Navy, Portuguese Navy and Spanish Navy), and they are permanently assigned to the post.

A Director of the PC is appointed and he manages the cell and will represent EUROMARFOR in the EMF SWG meetings. He will also stand for the COMEUROMARFOR when necessary, including at the POLMIL WG meetings. The EMF PC is supported by an Administrative Clerk.

 

EUROMARFOR WORKING-GROUP (EMF SWG)

The EMF Permanent Cell participated in 4 (four) EMF SWG Meetings (Lisbon, Rome, Toulon and Rota). This SWG was created by the High Level Inter-Ministerial Committee (CIMIN) to permanently support the Political-Military Working Group (POLMIL WG) and is in charge to supervise the technical and organic matters on EMF and to carry out studies on specific issues, whilst contributing to support the POLMIL WG decision-making process.

The EMF SWG is the multinational working body where the opinions of the member Nations Navies (related to EMF policy and management) are discussed, before being addressed to the CIMIN’s Political-Military Working Group (POLMIL WG).

 

POLITICAL-MILITARY WORKING GROUP (POLMIL WG)

The POLMIL WG is the executive body of the CIMIN for the political-military co-ordination and for the management of EUROMARFOR activities and the EMF Permanent Cell participated in 2 (two) POLMIL WG Meetings, in Rome and Paris.

The POLMIL WG is composed by the representatives from the Defence and the Foreign Affairs Ministers and from the Chief of Defence Staff (CHOD) of each member Nation, reflecting the CIMIN composition. The POLMIL WG is the executive body of the CIMIN for the political-military coordination and for the management of EUROMARFOR activities. 

 

REAL WORLD OPERATIONS

The stability in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) remains a major security concern for the European Union (EU). It sets out a growing geopolitical confrontation, and displays key trade routes of great relevance for the EU. Therefore, stability and prosperity in the GoG and the ability of coastal states to assume the responsibility of the maritime security in the region are a major concern for European Union (EU).

The four countries that compose the EMF (France, Italy, Portugal and Spain), already deploy regularly their naval units in the Gulf of Guinea and are the main contributors to Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP). The presence of the EMF in the GoG would allow the organization of Multi-Cooperative Exercise (MCE) with the coastal states, such as those that the EMF usually develops with countries of the southern Mediterranean basin and the African Atlantic coast (e.g. Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania and Cape Verde) on an annual regular basis.

Consequently, EMF has approved the activation framework for this force in the GoG, in order to enhance Maritime Security in the region, in support of the EU CMP initiative.

In September 13th 2022, the Director of the EMF Permanent Cell, Colonel Ignacio del Cuvillo Rivero, visited the CMP EU related authorities in Brussels to present them GoG documents approved.

Consequently, EUROMARFOR was activated for the first time in the GoG on the 5th of March 2022, and executed a Passing Exercise (PASSEX) to integrate the activated ships already in that area as an opportunity to improve their cohesion and interoperability as a group in order to contribute to Maritime Security in the region.

The naval units involved were:

−          ESPS “Audaz” (Spanish Navy “Armada”)

−          FS “PM L’HER” (French Navy “Marine Nationale”)

−          ITS “Comandante Foscari” (Italian Navy “Marina Militare”)

One Portuguese Navy officer was on board the ESPS “Audaz” as Liaison Officer, completing the 4 EMF nations in this PASSEX.


 ALFLOT ORP   2023-09-22 07:30:09   99 / 161056;
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Developed by CAPT(PON) Armando Dias Correia
Updated by EUROMARFOR Permanent Cell
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