By VP46 Public Affairs
Each year in the Central Mediterranean Sea, the NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) holds a large scale Naval Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Training Exercise off the coast of Sicily.
This exercise, named Dynamic Manta includes Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the US as participating allies. Among US forces this year were the “Grey Knights” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46, currently forward deployed in Sigonella, Sicily.
“With a constantly evolving threat posture, this exercise was a chance to enhance our naval forces’ war fighting skills in all three dimensions of anti-submarine warfare in a multinational and multi-threat environment,” said NATO Submarines Commander Rear Admiral Andrew Burcher.
With multiple NATO allied Naval Surface vessels, subsurface vessels and air assets, Dynamic Manta provided an opportunity to test, evaluate and hone Grey Knights’ proficiency at Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) in a highly dynamic, coordinated operating environment against subsurface threats in extremely challenging undersea conditions.
Multiple VP-46 Combat Air Crews participated in Dynamic Manta, executing required exercise tasking, and building stronger coordinated NATO Training, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) with our allies. Participants included multiple surface ships from France, Belgium, Greece and the US, as well as the French Carrier Strike Group Charles De Gaulle.
Their combined efforts enabled them to locate and track exceptionally capable subsurface contacts including the Italian ITS Todaro and Venuti, the Greek HS Papanikolis, the Turkish TCG Canakkale, and the Los Angeles-class submarine USS San Juan (SSN 751).
The Grey Knight Aircrews were extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in such a large scale Allied ASW exercise with so many participants. This year’s P-8A participation in Dynamic Manta clearly displayed the level of versatility an operational P-8A squadron trains to.
“Our crews put in great amount of time and effort mission planning prior to DYNAMIC MANTA, and it showed,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Atakturk, the VP-46 subject matter tactical instructor, mission commander, and patrol plane aircraft commander. “Multi-National events like this are critical for training and really showcase the multiplied strength that results when NATO partners work together.”
VP-46 is currently forward deployed to the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations and is assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout Europe and Africa.
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.