MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) – Russian and Italian warships started joint training missions Thursday in the Mediterranean Sea as part of the Ioniex-2013 exercise, a spokesman for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet said.
“Russian frigate Smetlivy as well as Italian destroyer Durand de la Penne and the frigate Espero sailed today for the active phase of the Ioniex-2013 exercise,” Capt. 1st Rank Vyacheslav Trukhachev said.
After leaving the Ionian Sea port of Taranto, the warships practiced joint navigation maneuvers and communications procedures, Trukhachev said.
The active phase of the exercise will continue through November 9. It will include artillery drills with live ammunition firing, air defense and anti-submarine warfare drills.
The Ioniex-2013 exercise began Monday with a planning and coordination phase.
The Smetlivy, a Kashin-class frigate, is part of Russia’s permanent task force in the eastern Mediterranean, established late last year “to protect Russia’s interests in the region.”
Russia and Italy have been conducting Ioniex drills since 2004 as part of a cooperation program between their navies. The Smetlivy participated in the drills in 2011 and 2012.