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NATO Mine Counter Measures Group Two Command Handover Ceremony

SALAMIS, Greece – Members of Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group Two (SNMCMG2) participated in an Operational Handover of Command ceremony between Turkey and Greece at Salamis Naval Base on July 29.

Captain Ramazan Kesgin of the Turkish Navy turned command of the group over to Captain Panagiotis Papageorgiou of the Hellenic Navy.

"It was an honor for me to be given the responsibility, on behalf of Turkish Navy, during such a critical period, for NATO and NON-NATO activity around the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean,” said Captain Kesgin during the ceremony.

Over 13 months, Captain Kesgin led SNMCMG2 to include 19 ships from nine Allied navies including ships from Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain and Turkey. SNMCMG2 visited 33 harbors in 11 countries and sailed nearly 19,000 nautical miles, conducting mine clearance and historical ordnance disposal operations to make the seas safer for all traffic.

The group participated in nine exercises including: BREEZE 2015, TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2015, ARIADNE 2015, POSEIDON 2016, ADRIADNE 2016, SPANISH MINEX 2016, ITALIAN MINEX 2016, BREEZE 2016, and SEA SHIELD 2016. The group also participated in Passing Exercises with ships from Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Algeria, the Georgian Coast Guard and Standing NATO Maritime Group One. Upon assuming command, Captain Papageorgiou stressed the importance of continuous presence.

"The rapidly changing geostrategic environment in the Mediterranean Sea reinforces the importance of a continuous maritime presence in terms of Maritime Situational Awareness, as well as, the need to contribute to the assurance measures in order to deliver a credible deterrence,” said Captain Papageorgious.

NATO Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans, Commodore Joao Aresta, also attended the ceremony representing the Commander Allied Maritime Command, Vice Admiral Clive Johnson.  

"This ceremony is representative of the great Alliance we all serve as it symbolizes the change of command responsibilities at a national level as a new grouping of NATO’s nations come together to safeguard the maritime security of all nations in the Alliance,” said Commodore Aresta. "Strive to make the most of this experience, enjoy the best it has to offer, learn from your Alliance colleagues. I have no doubt that you will look back with pride at what can be achieved by nations working together in the spirit of service to one and all as a collective force to protect each other from the hazards of a world that still very much needs the exercise of collective defense.”

Following the ceremony, the new flagship for the group will be Greek replenishment ship class 701 C, HS ALIAKMON (A 470).

SNMCMG2 is a multinational integrated force that projects a constant and visible reminder of NATO’s solidarity and cohesion afloat in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Greece and Turkey became members of NATO on the same day, 18 February 1952.

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