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NATO participates in the Ita Minex 21

According to information published by NATO on April 23, 2021, SNMCMG2, consisting of the Turkish flagship TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa, minehunters FS Orion (France), HS Evropi (Greece), ITS Termoli (Italy), ESPS Tajo (Spain) and TCG Ayvalık (Turkey), was confronted with a realistic exercise scenario for mine countermeasures operations, including asymmetric threats besides manoeuvring and communication exercises.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Italian ship ITS Termoli M 5555 (Picture source: SeaWaves)


"Exercise ITA MINEX was a great training opportunity for SNMCMG2 and forced us to push the limits both in forward-planning capability and in mine countermeasure vessel capacity. All units spent outstanding efforts in harmony and deserve praise.” said the Commander of SNMCMG2, Captain Yusuf Karagulle.

ITA MINEX is an annual mine countermeasures exercise with the aim to improve staff and crew’s performance in planning and conducting mine countermeasure operations in a challenging scenario. These kinds of mine warfare exercises give the units a chance to improve their mine warfare skills, interoperability and mutual understanding among NATO Allies and all participants.

SNMCMG2 is one of four standing forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations, additional forces can be added to these groups, with the NATO command staff on board and the ships of the Group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.

The Italian ship ITS Termoli (M 5555) part of the second batch of the Lerici class minehunters.

The Lerici class is a class of minehunters constructed by Intermarine SpA and owned and operated by the Italian Navy. The class incorporates two subclasses: the first four ships are referred to specifically as the first series of the Lerici class, while eight more ships produced to a slightly modified design are known as "second series Lericis" or as the Gaeta class.

The Gaeta class is almost identical to the Lerici class: the main structural differences between the ships are that displacement of the latter is 77 tons greater, the hull is 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) longer, and the communications mast was moved from above the bridge to just forward of the exhaust funnel. The Gaetas also used an improved version of the VDS FIAR SQQ-14 sonar, which was fitted in 1991 to the four Lerici class ships.