In a ceremony held remotely by video teleconference on 14 January, 2021, Commander Audrius Venckunas (Lithuanian Navy) handed over the command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) to Commander Jan Wijchers (Royal Netherlands Navy), NATO Maritime Command announced with a press release.
During the seven months of Lithuanian command, SNMCMG1 covered almost 10,000 nautical miles, flying the NATO flag and contributing to constant situational awareness in the waters and ports of Northern Europe; executed seven mine countermeasure operations, found 73 historical explosives, reducing the risk for maritime activities in the Baltic and North Seas; participated in nine different naval exercises together with other ships of the Allied navies, improving interoperability with NATO and partner nations. Moreover, during the mentioned period SNMCMG1 visited 18 ports, delivering the message of NATO unity and active presence in the region. All activities maintained a continuous pandemic-free bubble within the force, ensuring continuous availability of the NATO Force, ready for operations whenever the need arises.
“I would like to thank all SNMCMG1 personnel under my command for the professionalism, motivation and excellent duty. With all respect, I hand over the SNMCMG1 command to Commander Jan Wijchers, and I am confident that the readiness and professional skills of the SNMCMG1 under his command will continue to meet the highest standards”, said the outgoing Commander of SNMCMG1, Commander Audrius Venckunas.
Commander Jan Wijchers will command SNMCMG1 from the flagship BNS Godetia of the Belgian Navy.
“I think every naval officer would agree that being given command over an operational squadron of ships is the dream come true; it definitely is the case for me. Reassurance in the eastern Baltic will be one of our main tasks. Besides this it is also important to show we are still able to have a high readiness force during the pandemic we are experiencing right now. I would like to thank the outgoing Commander – you and your staff have done a great job; we are extremely grateful with the guidance you have given us for going further and it has put myself and my staff in a position to carry on from where you have left”, said the incoming Commander of SNMCMG1, Commander Jan Wijchers (Royal Netherlands Navy).