Four NATO ships assigned to Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group ONE (SNMCMG1) arrived in Karlskrona on Thursday, 5 June 2014, for a scheduled port visit and pre-sail conference in advance of the annual BALTOPS exercise.
SNMCMG1 is visiting the port as part of the Group’s deployment to the Baltic to enhance maritime security and NATO’s readiness in the region.
Led by Commander Gunther Brassel (DEU N) SNMCMG1 arrived in port with the FGS ELBE (flagship), leading the Dutch mine hunter HNLMS MAKKUM, the Belgian mine hunter BNS BELLIS, and the Polish mine hunter ORP FLAMING. Two additional members of the Group, the Norwegian mine hunter HNoMS OTRA and the Estonian mine hunter ENS ADMIRAL COWAN, will rejoin the Group in time for BALTOPS.
During the port visit, Commander Brassel and the SNMCMG1 staff will meet with Swedish Navy officials and participate in the final preparations for BALTOPS.
“This visit reinforces NATO’s strong maritime ties with Sweden,” said Commander Brassel. “In recent weeks we had the pleasure of joining together in a port visit to Riga, Latvia, and conducted a passing exercise with Swedish Navy vessels while en route to Tallinn, enhancing our interoperability between our naval forces.”
In addition to the activities Commander Brassel mentioned, the Swedish Navy was recently a vital contributor and participant in NATO’s triennial submarine rescue Exercise DYNAMIC MONARCH, hosted by the Polish Navy in May. The Swedish submarine HSWMS HALLAND and the Swedish submarine rescue ship HSWMS BELOS played critical roles, with the latter deploying the exercise’s loan rescue submersible, the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS).
During the Baltic deployment, the ships of SNMCMG1 are participating in a robust program of operations at sea, numerous port visits, previously including Swinoujscie, Poland, Ventspils and Riga, Latvia, Tallin, Estonia, and the Historic Ordnance Disposal operation OPEN SPIRIT, which contributed to the destruction of 95 mines and 2 torpedoes.
The 42nd annual BALTOPS is a multinational naval exercise led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe/U.S. SIXTH FLEET, based in Naples, Italy. Forces including SNMCMG1 will participate in numerous at-sea activities to test their warfighting abilities in multiple skill areas.
A NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (AWACS) E-3A aircraft will also be taking part operating in Swedish airspace, providing air and surface surveillance to participants. Another important role will be to control US, German and Swedish fighter aircraft during Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground operations.
Press Release, June 06, 2014; Image: NATO