The Belgian Navy is now in charge of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) after taking over from the Latvian Navy in a ceremony on January 15.
Commander Peter Ramboer of the Belgian Navy relieved Latvian Commander Gvido Laudups in Zeebrugge, Belgium.
Commander Laudups has led the group throughout the second half of 2017 from his flagship, Latvian MCM command and support ship LVNS Virsaitis and was the first Latvian commander to lead the group. Throughout his tenure, the group included ships from Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia, as well as a very shallow water explosive ordnance disposal team from Lithuania.
The group participated in national exercises Northern Coasts and Joint Warrior and conducted operations to dispose of historical bombs and mines (HOD Ops) off the coast of Latvia in operation Open Spirit and three other unnamed operations off the coast of Estonia, France and Germany.
“It was the first time after more than 10 years of participation in the group that Latvian Navy took command and today command flag will be handed over to Belgium Navy. I would like to emphasize how important for Latvian Navy it was” said Commander Laudups. “First time we assumed command of Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1 and we raised the NATO flag on board Latvian Naval flagship LVNS Virsaitis. The flag given as responsibility and honour not only to represent ourselves, but to represent the collective defence principles of NATO.”
Commander Peter Ramboer will now lead the group from his flagship, Dutch Submarine support and torpedo tender ship HNLMS Mercuur. “Excellent operational handover today in wet, windy and wintry conditions. Ready to continue the good work of the previous command and team. Looking forward to meaningful NATO work in 2018.”
Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) is one of four standing maritime groups composed of ships from various allied countries. These vessels are continuously available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from participation in exercises to operational missions.