NORTH ATLANTIC — Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) forces are in route to United States and Canada after assembled in Brest, France to start SNMG1’s Maritime Express initiative.
SNMG1 includes the flagship guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101), the Royal Norwegian Navy Fridjof Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl (F-314), the Belgian Navy Karel Doorman-class frigate Leopold I (F930), and the Portuguese Navy frigate NRP Francisco de Almeida (F334).
"The Atlantic, where we will be operating, is heavily important for NATO and SNMG1,” said Commander Senior Grade Alrid Skoge, commanding officer of HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl. "Our time here as SNMG1 ships is an opportunity to enhance transatlantic unity, upon which we will rely if a crisis occurs.”
The four ships will focus heavily on interoperability and building and maintaining readiness forces through a variety of exercises and evolutions.
The ships will also carry out NATO Maritime Command’s new Maritime Express construct, which will open up more opportunities for NATO partners and allies to train together while increasing the flexibility and agility of participating maritime forces.
"By coming together as SNMG1, we will deepen ties with allies and partners while building readiness to respond to any crisis if we are called upon as the maritime element of NATO´s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force,” said Rear Adm. Edward Cashman, commander of SNMG1. "The ability to conduct operations across the North Atlantic demonstrates the inherent flexibility and agility of maritime forces, a flexibility which NATO continues to demonstrate in today´s rapidly changing security environment,” he continued. "The North Atlantic represents a bridge, a global common that connects the nations of the Alliance, as they are connected by common values and commitment to collective security.”.
While in Brest, SNMG1 leadership met with Fortuné Pellicano, Brest deputy mayor, and Rear Admiral Arnaud Provost-Fleury, Deputy Commander at the French Atlantic Command in Brest. All participants had the opportunity to discuss future operations and enjoy a meal together aboard the Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl (F 314).
SNMG1 is one of four standing maritime task groups composed of ships from various Allied countries. These task groups form the core maritime capabilities of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). They provide a continuous maritime capability to execute NATO missions across the spectrum of operations, demonstrate solidarity, and strengthen diplomatic and professional links among Allied naval forces.