NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups exercise together in the Baltic Sea

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Photo courtesy of NATO MARCOM

Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) have conducted three days of training off the coast of Latvia and Estonia between 29-31 March 2021, NATO MARCOM announced with a press release on April 7.

SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 are two of four NATO Standing Naval Forces (SNFs) on continuous active duty that contributes to the Alliance’s collective defence on a permanent basis. As the core of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (Maritime), they provide constant high-readiness maritime capabilities that can quickly and effectively respond across the full spectrum of operations in support of any NATO operations.

SNFs are multinational, integrated maritime forces comprised of warships from various Allied countries and are highly interoperable with one another. Furthermore, each SNF provides unique and robust operational capabilities that complement each other in their common designated Area of Operations (AOO). Such is the case with SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 as both SNFs primarily operate in Western and Northern European waters which include the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea and their maritime approaches.

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Photo Courtesy Of Nato Marcom

“Our interactions in the Baltic Sea demonstrated NATO unity, readiness and steadfast commitment to the region’s collective defence and served as a powerful deterrent to potential aggressors,” said Commodore Bradley Peats, Commander of SNMG1. “High levels of interoperability between NATO Allies and partners depends on mutual familiarity, trust and confidence in each other’s tactics, techniques and procedures as well as each other’s capabilities and platforms. This interoperability pays dividends when we have to work seamlessly with each other to successfully achieve mission objectives during peacetime as well as during times of crisis and conflict.”

Among the interaction highlights was a temporary exchange of personnel (i.e. “crosspols”) between the two Forces on the final two days of interactions. Small boats transferred designated personnel back and forth between SNMG1 unit, HMCS Halifax, and SNMCMG1 units BNS Godetia, ENS Ugandi and FGS Datteln. These personnel then job shadowed their counterparts for the day, toured the ships and established personnel and professional relationships.

“These crosspols provided excellent professional development opportunities for the participants, allowing them to experience naval operations and daily life on board different Allied nations’ vessels,” said Commander Jan Wijchers, Commander of SNMCMG1. “Additionally, it broadened our common knowledge and understanding of the distinct roles and responsibilities of each SNF as well as the value they bring to the Alliance when it comes to defending NATO’s citizens and territorial integrity.”

“It was a great experience to get to take part in the crosspol as we have been very limited in our ability to interact with people outside of our own ship due to COVID-19,” said Sailor First Class Jenny Toole. “Along with a nice change of scenery, sailing on FGS Datteln for the day was a great opportunity to see into the life of a German Navy sailor. Tasked with mine counter-measures, it was very interesting to see the different equipment and capabilities that they hold. Between touring the ship, sitting down with the captain and taking the helm during maneuvers we had a great day and we are hopeful to be able to do it again in the future!”

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