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May 10 2021

NATO forces visit Finland, train with Finnish Navy

Turku, FINLAND- Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) visited Finland 1-5 May 2021. Upon arrival in Turku, SNMCMG1 was met by the Commander of the Finnish Coastal Fleet to discuss the upcoming joint naval exercises, aimed at increasing interoperability and harmonizing operating procedures between NATO and its partner Finland.

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The port visit was followed by a passing exercise on 6 May, with the Fourth Mine Countermeasures Squadron of the Finnish Navy, consisting of FNS Vahterpää and FNS Katanpää.

"It is important for us to exercise with partner Finland and I am pleased that we are able to do a joint exercise together with the Finnish Navy. NATO and Finland share the same interests in maintaining the conditions for international order, safe sea lines and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea," said Commander of SNMCMG1, Commander Jan Wijchers, Royal Netherlands Navy.

NATO and Finland share the same interests in maintaining the conditions for international order, safe sea lines and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea

The training focused on working together at sea and conducting mine countermeasures operations. Serials included search and rescue manoeuvres, as well as seamanship exercises and a Replenishment At Sea (RAS) approach training by FNS Vahtarpää. This exercise also provided a useful build up for FNS Vahtarpää, who will be attached to the NATO Group during the upcoming multinational exercise BALTOPS, celebrating its 50th edition in the Baltic Sea.

"Due to the ongoing pandemic we unfortunately weren't able to do a regular port visit to Turku. However, with very strict rules and regulations, ships crews of SNMCMG1 were granted a very limited and contained shore leave for needed rest and recreation in a COVID-safe way. Recreation in beautiful nature on a remote Finnish island Ruissalo and opening of the maritime museum, especially for us, was a very welcoming gift to boost the crew's moral," said Commander Wijchers.

Finland is one of NATO's most active partners and an important priority is to develop interoperable capabilities, maintaining the ability of the Finnish armed forces to work with those of NATO and other partner countries in multinational peace-support operations.

Port visits and passing exercises are highly valuable opportunities to work with Allies and partners, exchanging best practices and working together to build interoperability. The presence of SNMCMG1 in the Baltic Sea is a regular occurrence contributing to security and stability in the region.

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