On Tuesday, 22 April 2014, Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group ONE (SNMCMG1) deployed to the Baltic Sea to enhance maritime security and demonstrate the Alliance’s commitment to the safety and security of Baltic member States.
The group is composed of the Norwegian flagship HNoMS VALKYRIEN, the Dutch mine hunter HNLMS MAKKUM, the Belgian mine hunter BNS BELIS, the Norwegian minesweeper HNoMS OTRA, and the Estonian mine hunter ENS ADMIRAL COWEN.
This maritime group was reactivated last week by Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove, confirming a decision of the North Atlantic Council to enhance collective defence and deliver a set assurance measures in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
“SNMCMG1 has been operating in the region for more than 40 years,” said General Breedlove. “The Group’s presence contributes to regional maritime security. During this period of tension, we felt it appropriate to deploy SNMCMG1 to the Baltic Sea as part of a broad package of actions by NATO’s maritime, air, and ground forces. Our intent is not to escalate the situation, but rather to demonstrate our strong solidarity as an Alliance and increase our readiness.”
Commodore Arian Minderhoud, Allied Maritime Command’s Deputy Chief of Staff “Operations” attended the departure ceremony this morning. “The mission carried out by NATO’s Standing Maritime Forces contributes directly to the Alliance’s key function: to ensure the security of all its members,” said Commodore Minderhoud to the Group’s crewmembers. “SNMCMG1’s continued presence in the Baltic is a token of our unwavering determination to carry out this mission.”
During the Baltic deployment, the ships will participate in a number of port visits and previously scheduled Historic Ordnance Disposal operations, including participation in the mine clearance Operation OPEN SPIRIT, hosted by Latvia next month.
Press Release, April 23, 2014; Image: NATO