FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has served as the Flagship since 6 January 23, when German Navy Rear Admiral Thorsten Marx took command of SNMG1. After more than seven months deployed, 151 days at sea and 33,000 miles sailed, FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern returned to her home port in Wilhelmshaven, Germany on 16 July 23.
I look forward to conducting a challenging programme of major exercises and training activities with Allies and partners
The following day, one of Germany´s F-124 Class Frigates, FGS Hessen (F-221), took over as the new flagship of SNMG1.
Since January, SNMG1 has visited 20 ports in 12 countries, proudly flying the NATO flag and reaffirming NATO's commitment and determination to support Allies and partners. This deployment as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Maritime) (VJTF(M)) has taken the task group from Den Helder, Netherlands, through the wintry Arctic, to ports including Runavik on the Faroe Islands, to the Baltic Sea. Throughout the deployment, the task group took part in a demanding training programme, with numerous large-scale NATO manoeuvres and maritime operations in the North and Baltic Seas.
The Commanding Officer of FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, German Navy Commander Hendrik Wißler, said, "we left Wilhelmshaven on 4 January in the middle of winter and we are now returning in the summer, when the days are already getting shorter again. The crew looks back with pride on their time operating as the flagship, but we are now also very happy to be able to return to our families and friends.”
There have been many memorable moments for the crew at sea and in the ports. Special experiences for ship and crew include the time spent in the wintry Norwegian Sea and the Arctic in the first quarter of 2023, as well as joint exercises with the U.S. Navy’s USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group in the North Sea. There were many high profile visitors during the deployment, including the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Christopher G. Cavoli. The German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, also boarded the frigate FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Commander Task Group German Navy Rear Admiral Thorsten Marx and the embarked staff thanked the crew of FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern for their dedicated service. They also said they look forward to working with the crew of FGS Hessen over the next six months, as they continue to serve as NATO´s maritime Very High Readiness Group.
“FGS Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and her crew demonstrated during this deployment their supreme readiness to fulfil the NATO mission as part of the VJTF (M),” said Rear Admiral Marx, adding, “under challenging conditions, they provided an immediate readiness capability, exhibiting forward presence and contributing to operational interoperability to support greater maritime security.”
The next flagship, the frigate Hessen, is one generation younger than the frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The ship was deployed in 2019 with Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) in the Mediterranean Sea.
“My crew and I are really proud that FGS Hessen will join the task group as flagship for the next six months,” said the Commanding Officer of the new Flagship, German Navy Commander Volker Kübsch. “I look forward to conducting a challenging programme of major exercises and training activities with Allies and partners. We will also enhance the Alliance´s relations with nations through upcoming visits and exchanges.”
SNMG1 is one of four standing NATO maritime task groups composed of ships from various Allied countries. These task groups form the core maritime capability of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and provide a continuous maritime capability to execute NATO missions across the spectrum of operations, demonstrating solidarity and strengthening diplomatic and professional links among Allied naval forces.