The Greek-led task group for the current NATO Operation Sea Guardian Focused Security Patrol, conducted training with the Israeli Navy in the eastern Mediterranean Sea on December 7, 2020.
This is the third iteration of Crystal Sea, a cooperation designed to develop maritime medical support around the Mediterranean Sea for Operation Sea Guardian to ensure that any health issue among the crews on board military ships participating in Operation Sea Guardian can be addressed quickly and at the level of care required.
“Israel has been an important partner to NATO for more than 20 years, as well as an active member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. Exercises at sea are fundamental in preserving and consolidating that partnership and Crystal Sea is an excellent example,” says Vice Admiral Keith Blount, Commander of NATO Maritime Command.
This year, HS Spetsai (flagship) and BGS Smeli linked up with Israeli maritime units Lahav and Romah, to go through challenging medical evacuation and search and rescue (SAR) scenarios. Air units were involved to transport the simulated injured personnel to a local Israeli hospital as part of the scenario.
“Yesterday, a joint PASSEX was held between the Israeli Navy and NATO, with the focus on medical cooperation. This exercise included a number of scenarios with increasing complexity that tested both medical and maritime professional standards. We greatly value the cooperation between all NATO partners, as this is the third time in a row a naval medical exercise has taken place between the Israeli Navy and NATO forces,” says Rear Admiral Eyal Harel, Head of Naval Operation, Israeli Navy.
Crystal Sea is a stepping stone for Operation Sea Guardian as it is the first exercise conducted with a NATO Partner Nation in maritime medical support. Israel’s support of, and participation in this exercise helps to build additional medical interoperability in the southern part of the Eastern Mediterranean.
This interaction is followed by the task group’s visit to Haifa, Israel and continued patrols in the Mediterranean.