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Jan 14 2022

Poland hands over Command of NATO Naval Group to Estonia

TALLINN, Estonia – Commander Michał Dziugan of the Polish Navy transferred command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) to Commander Ott Laanemets of the Estonian Navy during a ceremony held at Tallinn Naval Base and via video teleconference, Jan. 12, 2022.

After Poland assumed command Oct. 2, 2021, SNMCMG1 deployed for three months covering almost 7,000 nautical miles. During that time, SNMCMG1 presented the NATO flag and provided significant contributions to an ongoing effort to reduce risk posed by explosives from World War II still present in the underwater domain, waters, and ports of Northern Europe. The group visited 13 ports in nine countries delivering the message of NATO unity and active presence in the region.

Together, the people of both navies and NATO, with the Standing Maritime Groups, have the best perspective to assess everything. That is the true meaning of the hashtags "We – the people - Are NATO" and "Stronger Together." We are stronger in unity. 

"Every organisation, every group is as strong, as the people making it. We had luck to have within the staff and command platform, to meet and to cooperate with amazing people."

Under Polish command, SNMCMG1 conducted historical ordnance disposal operations (HODOPS) in Dutch and Belgian territorial waters during Beneficial Cooperation, took part in an extensive program including multiple naval exercises during operation Solidary Belona with Polish Navy, and carried out passing exercises (PASSEX) and/or interactions with navies and air forces of allied nations such as Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. SNMCMG1 also contributed to NATO's diplomatic efforts conducting diplomacy port visits to non-NATO Sweden in addition to planning and execution of joint Maritime-Land Integration activities (MLI). During the port visit in Klaipeda, Lithuania, the Task Group had close cooperation with land forces from Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania (eFP BG LTU) to strengthen the understanding and efficiency between forces operating in different domains.

Since assuming command of SNMCMG1, Dziugan hoisted his COMSNMCMG1 broad pennant aboard German flagship FGS Elbe. Up to seven ships from five Allied countries have provided units to support the Group during the period. The Group consisted of the flagship FGS Elbe (GER) with international staff on board and minehunters: LVNS Talivaldis (LVA), BNS Primula (BEL), FGS Homburg (GER), HNoMS Olav Tryggvason (NOR), HNLMS Vlaardingen (NLD), and FGS Bad Bevensen (GER), with two Seahund drones.

Oncoming COMSNMCMG1, Laanemets, will command SNMCMG1 for the entirety of 2022. LVNS Virsaitis of the Latvian Navy will serve as the flagship for the first half of the year. 

"I am humbled to take command of SNMCMG1. I, and most Estonian sailors, have been deployed to SNMCMG1 many times and SNMCMG1 has been a red thin line through the whole of Estonian Navy's development, integration to NATO, and operating alongside Allies. Since establishment in 1973 the tasks of SNMCMG1 have remained same – provide the Alliance with immediately ready MCM [mine countermeasures] capability and demonstrate the cohesion of Allies. I will do my best to deliver a ready MCM capability for the Alliance during these challenging times," Laanemets said. "It is an immense honour, but also a great responsibility to assume command of the SNMCMG1." 

Story by Public Affairs Office at MARCOM

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