Since June 15, the Hellenic Navy led SNMCMG2 providing NATO with continuous presence in the Mediterranean and Black Sea, reassuring Allies and deterring any potential aggressors. They participated in six exercises, monitored NATOs sea lines of communication, contributing to maritime security, routinely trained together with Allies and Partners to enhance interoperability, and helped map historical ordnances in the Black Sea, leaving the sea a safer place for all modern seafarers – all this amidst an ongoing pandemic.
Hellenic Ship Aliakmon was the flagship for the whole duration of the deployment; it was joined by ESPS Tambre and ESPS Duero (Spain), ITS Gaeta and ITS Alghero(Italy), FS Orion (France), TCG Amasra and TCG Edremit (Turkey), BGS Tsibar (Bulgaria) and ROS Lt. Lupu Dinescu (Romania).
Having successfully maintained the readiness of the group, enhanced its operational capability and demonstrated an unhindered NATO presence under such unprecedented conditions
Captain Dimitrios Katsouras (GRC N) handed over the command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) from Salamis, Greece, in a ceremony held remotely due to COVID-19 pandemic. Photo credits to Hellenic Navy
“SNMCMG 2’s past seven months of deployment, presented a significant challenge for us all, as it took place amidst the pandemic and the Group deployed twice in the Black Sea", said Captain Dimitrios Katsouras. "Having successfully maintained the readiness of the group, enhanced its operational capability and demonstrated an unhindered NATO presence under such unprecedented conditions, the Group’s recent deployment bears unquestionable testament to NATO’s resilience and agility. Nevertheless, training and operating under the COVID-19 preventive measures and the severe restrictions imposed by the pandemic, was no small feat; for that, both the SNMCMG 2 Staff and ships' crews deserve our commendation and appreciation for the physical and psychological strength they exhibited. Finally, the identification of historical ordnances highlights the Alliance’s contribution to the security of the whole maritime community".
The online ceremony on Monday was presided by Vice Admiral Didier Piaton, Deputy Commander of NATO Allied Maritime Command.