U.S. Navy, NATO complete Noble Manta '09 exercise

SIGONELLA, Sicily — The U.S. Navy and seven NATO allies completed the annual anti-submarine warfare exercise Noble Manta '09 Feb. 27 in the Ionian Sea off the eastern coast of Sicily.

The exercise was conducted from Feb. 13-27 and was a cooperative effort facilitated by NATO assets in conjunction with Command Task Force 67 and included six submarines, 10 surface ships and 13 aircraft from countries including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Canada.

The purpose of the exercise was to demonstrate NATO's determination to maintain proficiency and improve interoperability in coordinated anti-submarine, anti-surface and coastal surveillance operations using a multinational force of ships, submarines and aircraft. The exercise also provided operational training in potential NATO Response Force (NRF) tasks/roles and missions, exercising the procedures for possible NRF operations as well as defense against terrorism.

"We had some friendly subs and some surface vessels," said U.S. Navy Lt. Erik Sword, a naval flight officer with Patrol Squadron 4 stationed at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. "We were involved and the other NATO forces had their air assets out there as well. So, it was a lot of detect and deter type missions for submarines to either keep the battle group safe or just go out and detect subs that may or may not have been there."

Noble Manta offered service members from different nations a chance to work alongside many of their NATO counterparts.

"It's good exposure for us to get over here and represent Canada, reinforce our role in aviation community and work with our NATO allies," said Canadian Cpl. Tim Johnston, an aviation systems technician with the 14th Air Maintenance Squadron stationed in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada. "The support that we have received from the other has been excellent. We're all on the same team here, and we have the same goal in mind."

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