Within the framework of Deterrence and Defence of the Euro-Atlantic Area, this vigilance activity improved interoperability of allied Carrier Strike Groups, STRIKFORNATO, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SACEUR) and the wider Alliance and partners. Thirty-one ships, 135 aircraft, and 8,386 Sailors and Marines from 21 countries conducted deterrence and assurance through execution of a broad spectrum of sea, air, and land activities.
The security environment is uncertain; NATO's capability and will is not. Enabled by trust, the agility, ingenuity and tenacity demonstrated by the Sailors, Marines, and Airmen deter aggression and show we are ready to defend the Alliance
"I'm proud of this team's performance in displaying interchangeability while conducting extremely complex high-end activities," said Vice Adm. Ishee, commander of both STRIKFORNATO and U.S. Sixth Fleet. “The security environment is uncertain; NATO's capability and will is not. Enabled by trust, the agility, ingenuity and tenacity demonstrated by the Sailors, Marines, and Airmen deter aggression and show we are ready to defend the Alliance.”
Allied aircraft participating in Neptune Strike 23.1. this vigilance activity improved interoperability of allied Carrier Strike Groups, STRIKFORNATO, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SACEUR) and the wider Alliance and partners. Photo courtesy of Hellenic Air Force.
NEST 23.1 was planned under the command of U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Thomas Ishee and directed by STRIKFORNATO, which is headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, and is SACEUR's premier, rapidly deployable and flexible, maritime power projection Headquarters, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations.
The vigilance activity centered on three strike groups: the USS George HW Bush, ITS Cavour, and ESPS Juan Carlos I, all operating in the Mediterranean. These forces combined saw over 31 ships and 87 aircraft operating in close coordination, including F-35B, F/A-18E/F/G, AV-8B, and E-2D along with numerous helicopters and supporting assets. Supporting units from Greece, Türkiye, Croatia, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Albania all contributed forces to make all of these activities an unparalleled success.
In the Baltic Sea, destroyers USS Arleigh Burke and German frigate FGS Hessen participated in complex simulated targeting serials, demonstrating NATO’s ability to coordinate across vast distances and differing environments to deter aggression and deliver deterrence and defense of the Alliance.
In total, 37 vigilance activities took place over the course of NEST 23.1, consisting of 198 aircraft sorties, two joint personnel recovery exercises, and two simulated tri-carrier strike operations. The latter being the first time three aircraft carriers had performed simulated strikes of this nature under the NATO flag.
French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle, under national command joined the three NATO strike groups operating in the Mediterranean, increasing the allied aircraft carrier count in the region to four, Feb. 23, 2023. Over the course of two days, the Charles de Gaulle along with her embarked air wing of Rafale fighter aircraft coordinated with the other three carriers to perform simulated carrier strike and carrier defense activities strengthening collective defence.
Additionally, USS Arleigh Burke and FGS Hessen joined forces in the Baltic Sea to engage and destroy a Danish drone aircraft as a demonstration of NATO’s ability to conduct Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Feb. 24, 2023. These activities and others prove that NATO has both the resolve and technical capabilities to answer any threat, anywhere, at any time.
NEST 23.1 is the natural evolution of NATO's ability to integrate the high-end maritime strike capabilities of Allied aircraft carrier strike groups and expeditionary strike groups to support the defense of the Alliance.