Celtic Areas – War Games Playground For NATO

Exercise Joint Warrior 2020-2 gets underway today. These biannual exercises are held off Scotland and Ireland because in some NATO countries home territories opposition to military exercise has caused the alliance to find a more ‘compliant’ area.

JW 2020-2 commences with anti-submarine exercises involving ships, submarines and aircraft in Area NORTH CHANNEL and Area ORSAY, (4-6th October) which is the area North of Donegal and Tory Island. Coincidentally the latter area was where there was a confrontation between Irish fisherman and the Royal Navy just weeks ago.

Thereafter the exercises including anti-submarine, mine-warfare and live firing take place in a series of areas around Scotland and near St Kilda.

There is a concentrated period between the 5th and 13th October when submarine exercises will be concentrated in Area’s UIST AND DEEP 3 which is an area fished extensively by Irish, Scottish and EU MFVs.

Some uncertainty surrounded the start of the exercise due to the concentration of pods of whales in Scottish coastal waters. Some species it was suggested are not normally present in these numbers at this time of year. Large numbers of whales have died as a consequence of previous exercises and additional damage to flora and fauna was caused by serious onshore fires after live firing in the Cape Wrath area some years ago.

GPS interruption will also occur in some Scottish coastal waters during the exercise period.

Hazards are also prevalent for Fishermen and other mariners when submarine activity is ongoing. The International Maritime Organisation places the onus on the military not to hazard other commercial mariners and such exercises are supposed to have a designated Fishing Vessel Safety Ship (FVSS). See Note:

“Communications can be established with submarines during JW when they are surfaced or at periscope depth on VHF Ch 16 (working Ch 73). In the event that they are operating with warships, one of the warships will have been detailed to act as the Fishing Vessel Safety Ship (FVSS) in accordance with the Code of Practice. The FVSS has two overarching duties: a. To make fishing vessels aware of submarine activity in their vicinity and to provide information and advice to minimise the risk of interaction. b. To aid the participating submarine in compiling a comprehensive surface picture in order to minimise the risk of interaction with non-exercise vessels. 3. It is usually easier to establish communications with the FVSS than with a submarine. However, any warship in the vicinity may be contacted and asked for a report on any exercises involving submarines which are being conducted in the local area. Alternatively, the ship may be used to relay messages or instructions to the submarine if required. All warships, including the FVSS, can be contacted on VHF Channel 16 (working Channel 73).” (Source Royal Navy HQ Northwood)

Image: Map of all the areas to be used in JW 2020-2

Bernard Moffatt

Celtic League Military Monitoring (03/10/20)

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