The Return of ASW to the Front Burner for NATO: Dynamic Manta Exercise


A NATO anti-submarine warfare exercise began off the coast of Italy in late February 2020.

Dynamic Manta (DYMAN20) involves ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from nine NATO countries.

The aim of the exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training, to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard to safety.

The footage below includes shots of an Italian Navy submarine, an Italian Navy helicopter and an interview with US Rear Admiral E. Andrew Burcher, Commander Submarines NATO.

In an article by Megan Eckstein of USNI News published on March 2, 2020, the focus and scope of the exercise was highlighted.

All across the Mediterranean Sea, more non-NATO countries are fielding submarines while NATO allies are increasing the size of their own undersea fleets. Those submarines are also becoming harder to find.

All told, the ability for NATO to find, track and identify submarines is not just a matter of defense against Russia, but a matter of basic traffic safety on and under the Mediterranean.

Set against the backdrop of the increasingly crowded Med, NATO is hosting the Dynamic Manta 2020 anti-submarine warfare exercise, bringing together nine nations to combine ASW capabilities from ships, maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and submarines, and improve their ability to work together to keep these southern European waters safe….

In the complex undersea environment in the Mediterranean, squeezing out the most capability from SNMG-2 and the ships and aircraft it partners with during exercises like Dynamic Manta is key.

“This August, Russia did Exercise Ocean Shield, which was the largest post end of the Cold War exercise conducted by Russia. And one of the components of [NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe]’s guidance is that we conduct deterrence and defense of the Euro-Atlantic Area. The point of Dynamic Manta is to show a credible defense, that we have the ability to act interoperably within the ASW realm,” Rear Adm. Andy Burcher, commander of NATO submarines at MARCOM, said during a press conference aboard Carabiniere on Feb. 24 the first day of the exercise.

“In addition to that, I would say that all of the large number of nations that surround the Mediterranean are increasing the number of submarines that are operating in the Mediterranean: Algeria, Egypt, Russia and Israel are now all operating submarines in the Mediterranean. And a large number of our NATO alliance countries are increasing their submarine footprint in the area: Spain, Italy, Turkey, I believe Greece, are all conducting expansion programs within the submarine realm. So from a submarine perspective, the number of submarines that are operating in the Mediterranean is increasing, so it’s important that we understand how the Mediterranean operates, and in particular, all of these submarines that are coming in have advanced capabilities in comparison to the past. So we have to stay both proficient and capable in the ASW realm. So those are the factors that I see in the Mediterranean that make this exercise important.”

On Russia specifically, Fantoni said that, “they are military vessels, they don’t belong to the alliance, they are present – so we could consider them as a threat, but I don’t see a threat, an immediate threat to the forces. We respect their potential capability but also confident that we are as well prepared for any type of emergency.”

For the rest of the article, see the following:

Dynamic Manta Exercise Trains NATO in Anti-Submarine Warfare As More Attack Boats Prowl the Mediterranean