By Lieutenant Ryan E Miller, Collateral Duty Public Affairs Officer – Commander Task Force SIX SEVEN
IONIAN SEA – The “Grey Knights” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 once again reaffirmed their title of “Oldest and the Best” by flying their P-8A Poseidon Boeing aircraft in the annual NATO Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise DYNAMIC MANTA, held in the central Mediterranean Sea.
This exercise enhances the interoperability and tactical proficiencies of anti-submarine warfare forces. They bring complex and challenging warfare training to enhance the participants’ interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine warfare skills.
These hardworking aircrews, maintainers, and support team have been in Europe since October 2020 assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 67, homed-based at Sigonella Air Base in Sicily, Italy.
LT Michael Gehle, CTF 67’s Assistant Operations Officer, remarked, “I’ve seen numerous deployed patrol squadrons and the Grey Knights have been the hardest working squadron I’ve ever seen. It’s been non-stop excellence since getting here.”
That excellence was demonstrated as the P-8A flight crew conducted 6 training sorties tracking highly capable NATO submarines. These submarines included the Italian ITS TODARO and ITS VENUTI, Greek HS PAPANIKOLIS, Turkish TCG CANAKKALE, and the US USS SAN JUAN. The Grey Knights didn’t do it alone though, as Sigonella Air base also hosted French, German, and Greece maritime aircraft. These flight crews worked alongside land-based Italian helicopters and surface vessels from Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and France, in particular, the Charles De Gaulle Carrier Strike Force that participated.
“Our crews put in lot of time and effort mission planning leading up to DYNAMIC MANTA and it showed,” said LCDR Kyle Atakturk, one of VP 46’s top Mission Commanders as he talked on his aircrew’s participation in the larger DYNAMIC MANTA force. “Multi-National events like this are critical for training and really showcase the multiplied strength when NATO partners work together.”
All these forces together were led by NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) who planned and organized from a distance due to coronavirus precautions. These combined forces were able to practice and develop NATO anti-submarine warfare tactics and procedures.
Exercise Dynamic Manta 2021 is a HQ Maritime Allied Command (MARCOM) live exercise (LIVEX) designed to sharpen anti-submarine warfare (ASW) skills of participating surface, submarine, and air units and to enhance anti-surface warfare (ASUW) training, and exploit tactics and methods applicable in real world operations.
Participating nations include Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United States.
U.S. Sixth Fleet regularly exercises in MARCOM-led exercises including Dynamic Mariner, Dynamic Move, and Dynamic Mongoose.
Task Force 67 is composed of helicopters and land-based maritime patrol aircraft that operate throughout European and African waters in anti-submarine, search-and-rescue, reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles. Task Force 67′s official mission is to provide responsive, interoperable, and expeditionary combat ready maritime patrol aircraft and supporting forces to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.