In February 2023, NATO hosted its annu- al, Mediterranean-based anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise, ‘Dynamic Manta’, in the Ionian Sea off southern Italy. As ‘Dy- namic Manta’ takes place on the door-step of the Eastern Mediterranean/Black Sea region, it is very much a real-world exercise. Since the return of great power competition and naval rivalry at sea, the region has become a critical stage within undergoing significant transformation, adding capabilities that support both national and international interests. This includes F-35s onboard the aircraft carrier Cavour, improved amphibious capability the wider Euro-Atlantic theatre, as NATO navies and the Russian Federation Navy use operational presence to joust for stra- tegic position across the Eastern Mediter- ranean, the Black Sea, and the Bosporus/ Dardanelles straits maritime choke point that connects them. The region’s geo- strategic significance is being borne out in how it has become a critical access and presence point in the Russo-Ukraine War. For NATO, the Italian Navy provides major presence in Central and Eastern Mediter- ranean waters. The Italian Navy has been based around the assault ship Giuseppe Garibaldi, surface punch provided for anti- air warfare and ASW tasks by its Bergami- ni class FREMM multi-mission frigates, and a recapitalised and expanded submarine force built around its Type 212A fleet.
One Type 212A was deployed on ‘Dynamic Manta’, according to NATO Maritime Com- mand (MARCOM). MARCOM and the na- vies themselves tend not to release names of submarines operating at sea. However, social media outlets suggested the boat was the second-in-class Scirè (S 527).