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NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 Changes Leadership

ZEEBRUGGE, Belgium - Commander Peter Ramboer of the Belgian Navy took command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) from Latvian Commander Gvido Laudups today in a ceremony 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 is the first Latvian Commander for 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. 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,” said Commander Laudups. "After the six months at sea I consider myself lucky. I have truly enjoyed working with Commanding officers of ships, crews and staff members, all being motivated, professional and contributing to the group to their best abilities.”

Commander Peter Ramboer will now lead the group from his flagship, Dutch Torpedo 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. They also serve as an on call maritime force as a part of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) while exhibiting forward presence and contributing to operational interoperability among Allied naval forces to support greater regional security and stability.

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