NATO Ships Visit St. Petersburg
NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group 1 flagship ORP CZERNICKI of the Polish Navy docked in St Petersburg.
NATO ships assigned to the NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group arrived in St Petersburg for a scheduled port visit, on 10 October. The visit took place as part of continued NATO-Russia Council military cooperation, and provided an opportunity for naval counterparts to meet and exchange experiences. NATO-Russia Council nations' navies have several areas of shared interest, including counter piracy, counter terrorism, education, training, and search and rescue at sea.
A previous visit by NATO ships to Russia took place in 2004, when ships from NATO’s Standing Naval Force Mediterranean (STANAVFORMED) berthed at the port of Novorossijsk in July 2004.
Under the command of Commander Piotr Sikora, of the Polish Navy, the NATO Group visiting St. Petersburg includes ships from Poland, Estonia, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, and Germany.
“We are very happy to be visiting the port of St. Petersburg,” said Group Commander Sikora.We share many common interests in maritime security. "We welcome these opportunities to work together in close fashion not only to enhance understanding between NATO and Russia, but also to improve interoperability and cooperation in areas of shared interest. We have benefited from similar opportunities to work together with our Russian counterparts during operations, especially counter-piracy Operation OCEAN SHIELD and search and rescue operations in the Indian Ocean.”
Counter-piracy has became a prominent area of cooperation through the NATO-Russia Council and in spring 2013, NATO and Russian Federation ships conducted a series of joint-counter-piracy exercises together in the Gulf of Aden. On 25 May, a delegation from the Russian Federation Navy Ship (RFS) NEUSTRASHIMIY paid a visit to Italian Ship (ITS) SAN MARCO, then NATO’s counter-piracy flagship in the Indian Ocean, to exchange views on counter piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden.
Russian and NATO naval officers lay a wreath together in St Petersburg.