Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond assumed command of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 operating in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.
The ceremony, in which Diamond relieved sister ship HMS Duncan, took place in Montenegro over the weekend.
Duncan was originally to be replaced by helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, but the ship had to replace Mediterranean for Caribbean waters to deliver aid to hurricane-affected regions of the Caribbean.
Diamond will now be in charge of a group of up to 14 warships from NATO countries. The task group has three main roles – remain the high readiness force to react first in the event of a military or humanitarian crisis, deter illegal migration into Europe, and conduct engagement and exercise programs with NATO allies and partners.
The Portsmouth-based warship relieves sister ship HMS Duncan, another Type 45 destroyer which has held the role of NATO flagship since June. Duncan handed over her flagship duties to Diamond when the two destroyers met up in Bar, Montenegro at the weekend.
The Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, Royal Navy Commodore James Morley, will now use HMS Diamond to direct a force of destroyers, frigates and patrol boats.
The task group is split into two units – Diamond will continue to operate in the Mediterranean while the second task unit will focus on patrolling in the Aegean, working with the Greek and Turkish Navies, coastguards and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency to deter illegal migration.
HMS Diamond left Portsmouth on 4 September for a nine-month deployment to the Middle East on maritime security operations, but was retasked immediately following the events of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean.