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MCM Black Sea Task Group starts operations

The MCM Black Sea Task Group comprising naval assets from Türkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria departs Istanbul for its first patrol on 2 July 2024. (Yoruk Isik)

The new Mine Countermeasures Black Sea (MCM Black Sea) Task Group stood up by Türkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria to jointly tackle the threat of drifting mines in the Black Sea has officially started operations.

The task force was formally activated during a ceremony held in Istanbul on 1 July, the Turkish Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed the same day.

The ceremony was attended by Turkish Navy Commander Admiral Ercüment Tatlıoğlu, Romanian Navy Commander Vice Admiral Mihai Panait, and Bulgarian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Kiril Yordanov Mihaylov. The navy chiefs of the three countries have formed a committee to run the operation, which will predominantly be carried out in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of the participating countries to eliminate the mining threat.

The three NATO allies formally agreed to stand up the MCM Black Sea initiative under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in Istanbul on 11 January 2024. The MOU, which is valid for a three-year period, followed talks between the three countries, led by Türkiye, that had been ongoing since 2023 and aimed to build on their existing collaboration and co-ordination in order to more effectively tackle the Black Sea mine threat.

Initially, the task force will only involve the participation of Türkiye, Romania, and Bulgaria due to the current closure of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to all but Black Sea-homeported warships, but it is envisaged that following the conclusion of the war, other NATO countries and allies will be invited to join.

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