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Apr 26 2021

France takes command of NATO naval group for the first time

La Spezia, ITALY – In a ceremony held remotely by video teleconference due to COVID-19 measures, Captain Yusuf Karagulle (Turkish Navy) handed over the command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) to Commander Gregory Guiran (French Navy) on Friday, 23 April 2021.

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Commander Gregory Guiran will command the NATO Group from the flagship FS Somme of the French Navy.

This is a first time that France has taken command of one of NATO's four Standing Naval Forces and it's a real honour for me and the crew of the FS Somme

"This is a first time that France has taken command of one of NATO's four Standing Naval Forces and it's a real honour for me and the crew of the FS Somme. Recent actions and exercises carried out by SNMCMG2 outgoing Commander Yusuf Karagulle's command have demonstrated that NATO is fully capable in mine warfare, demonstrating solidarity and cohesion in the face of a perpetually evolving threat," said Commander Gregory Guiran, the incoming Commander of SNMCMG2.

The ceremony on Friday was presided by the Deputy Commander of NATO Maritime Command, Vice Admiral Didier Piaton. Following the virtual Change of Command Ceremony, Captain Yusuf Karagulle handed over the NATO flag to Commander Gregory Guiran with a ceremony held on board FS Somme in the port of La Spezia, Italy with the participation of incoming and outgoing staff members and representatives of both flagships.

"Turkey assumed the command of SNMCMG2 even in this challenging Covid19 pandemic environment. My command aim during this period has been to form and maintain a mine countermeasures Force at high state of operational readiness and best standards in order to fulfil the range of missions assigned to SNMCMG2 and thus provide the NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) with continuous and effective mine countermeasures capability," said Captain Yusuf Karagulle, the outgoing Commander of SNMCMG2.

"I assess that all parts of the mission of SNMCMG2 under my command were fulfilled. The success of this deployment would not be possible without the boundless determination of all crews and the staff", added the Captain.

During Turkey's command 19 February - 23 April, 2021 SNMCMG2 covered almost 3,500 nautical miles, participated in three major exercises – Poseidon, Ariadne and ITA Minex-, two passing exercises and conducted port visits to Allied and partner countries – Turkey, Romania, Ukraine, Greece and Italy respectively - in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. In addition to the Turkish Navy flagship, eight mine countermeasures vessels from Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain and Turkey took part in the Group during the deployment in different periods.

SNMCMG2 is a multinational integrated force that projects a constant and visible reminder of NATO's solidarity and cohesion afloat in the southern waters of NATO Alliance. The Standing NATO Maritime Groups provide NATO with a continuous maritime capability for operations and other activities in peacetime and in periods of crisis and conflict. They also help to establish Alliance presence to maintain maritime security, conduct routine diplomatic visits to different countries, and provide a variety of specialist military maritime capabilities to ongoing missions.

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