November 17-23, Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) is conducting a port visit to Klaipėda. SNMCMG1 is formed by the FGS Elbe flagship and FGS Bad Bevensen minehunter of the German Navy and HNLMS Vlaardingen minehunter of the Royal Netherlands Navy. Commander SNMCMG1 is Cdr Michał Dziugan (Polish Navy).
During the visit, Commander SNMCMG1 and commanding officers of the ships will meet with Commander Lithuanian Navy Capt (Navy) Giedrius Premeneckas and conduct courtesy visit to the Mayor of Klaipėda.
Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 provides the Alliance with a standing naval capability for exercises and real-life operations. SNMCMG1 carries out MC measures operations and attends other international maritime NATO maneuvers and exercises with NATO partners in its area of responsibility that spans Northern European waters. Contributed by coastal NATO member countries, SNMCMG1 ships can be also deployed to respond to crisis if necessary.
The Lithuanian Navy also rotates minehunters to SNMCMG1on regular basis. That constitutes an important contribution to the security in the Baltic Sea and neighboring regions.
NATO has the total of four standing maritime groups that ensure the Alliance has standing capabilities and form the basis of the maritime element of the NATO Response Force. Two of them, SNMG1 and SNMG2, are formed by large surface warfare ships, such as frigates and destroyers. The other two, SNMCMG1 and SNMCMG2, are formed by MCM ships.
Lithuanian Navy officers have been in charge of NATO SNMCMG1 twice: in 2014 it was led by the current Commander Lithuanian Navy Captain (naval) Giedrius Premeneckas, and by Cdr Audrius Venckūnas – in 2020.
The ships will not be opened for the public to visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo credits: Seaman Ieva Želvytė