Royal Norwegian Navy Commander Ole Torstein Sjo relieved Estonian Navy Commander Ott Laanemets who led the group for the past year. Deputy Commander NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) French Navy Vice Admiral Didier Piaton presided over the ceremony. During the past 12 months, SNMCMG1’s multinational force included 10 Allied ships representing Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and UK. They have patrolled the waters of Northern Europe and as far south as the Iberian Peninsula, with a focus on mine countermeasures operations. SNMCMG1 provided NATO with a constant presence in the North to assure Allies and deter any potential aggressors. It monitored sea lanes in NATO’s area of responsibility contributing to maritime security, and routinely trained with Allies and Partners including participation in several large-scale multinational exercises and numerous individual training opportunities, enhancing Allied interoperability and cohesion. SNMCMG1 conducted ordnance disposal operations and successfully neutralized 18 mines leaving the water safer for the international maritime community.
I am proud to have served as a Commander of such a fine task group with such a team around me, contributing to NATO’s deterrence and defence posture,” Laanemets said. “2022 showed once again that NATO is stronger together and I am sure commander Sjo and his team will do their very best.
“I am proud to have served as a Commander of such a fine task group with such a team around me, contributing to NATO’s deterrence and defence posture,” Laanemets said. “2022 showed once again that NATO is stronger together and I am sure commander Sjo and his team will do their very best.”
Sjo thanked Laanemets for a smooth handover as Norway took the helm.
“Few things in life compare to the pride of representing your nation, your flag and in this case also the Alliance that is NATO,” Sjo said. “It truly fills me with immense pride words can hardly justify.
“I am honoured to have the opportunity to command SNMCMG1. My team and I are highly motivated for the road and tasks ahead, and we are eager to get started.
“SNMCMG1 is a community with a culture of bringing forward the best from each other, everyone knowing that we are stronger together. We will proudly carry on this legacy and I will do my very best to ensure that this force is ready and capable when and where we are needed.”
Under Norwegian command, the Group will continue its multinational integration through regular operations and exercises in support of sustained Alliance presence and readiness in the region.
SNMCMG1 is one of two mine countermeasures groups under MARCOM.