In a ceremony at the Haakonsvern Naval Base in Norway, the Portuguese frigate Corte-Real raised the NATO flag to become the new flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) on 30 July 2020, NATO Maritime Command announced.
Corte-Real has relieved the Norwegian frigate Otto Sverdrup from more than seven months as the flagship of the standing NATO force.
The outgoing Commander, Commodore Yngve Skoglund of the Norwegian Navy handed the NATO flag to the new Commander of SNMG1 Commodore José António Vizinha Mirones from the Portuguese Navy.
“In the coming months, Standing NATO Maritime Group One, as one of the standing elements of the Alliance´s military power, will contribute with Allies and NATO partners in the Baltics, North Sea and High North, to deter those who would threaten the interests of our community of common democratic values and seek to compromise the international rule of law”, said Commodore Mirones.
He emphasized that the transatlantic community is facing a period of increasing uncertainty and unpredictability, as state and non-state aggressors are testing its readiness, and that there is little doubt that the security and wealth of allied nations rest upon their access to, and freedom of maneuver on, the global commons that is the sea.
“Consequently, we must be flexible and prepared for the most complex and demanding operations: learning, adapting, and improving by the day and by the hour to respond to unexpected challenges and opportunities will be the keys to our success. Notwithstanding this, our future tasks can only be accomplished thanks to the work and dedication of resilient sailors who remain committed and focused. It is a distinct honour for me to serve at their side, learn and grow with each of them, as we carry out our mission”, Commodore Mirones added.
The Norwegian Commodore Skoglund and his international staff had received the command of SNMG1 from Rear Admiral Ed. Cashman of the U.S. Navy in early December 2019. After a few months the mission turned out to be quite different than expected with the outbreak of COVID19 making the mission both complex and challenging. On the last day as Commander, Skoglund expressed his gratitude to the NATO team and all the Allied vessels that have been a part of SNMG1 as well as for the great professionalism in which they all have handled the situation with COVID19.
“These have been challenging times. We have been sailing with the threat of COVID19 for more than five months now. It has been my highest priority to act in a way that denied the virus to affect our ability to execute operations and fulfill our mission on behalf of NATO. It is with great pride I can say that all our ships succeeded in staying free from COVID19 through our whole deployment”, said Commodore Skoglund.
Under the Norwegian command, SNMG1 successfully participated in naval exercises such as Dynamic Guard, Joint Warrior, SWENEX, BALTOPS, and Dynamic Mongoose, as well as exercises with allies and partner countries such as the French Charles de Gaulle Carrier Strike Group, Standing NATO Mine Countermeasure Group One, Polish Navy, Finnish Navy and Baltic Air Policing.
One of the highlights of SNMG1 so far this year was their participation in monitoring substantial Russian presence in the English Channel in March, supporting French and British Allies.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to have been the Commander of SNMG1. I think the past seven months have shown that NATO’s presence at sea with our Standing Naval Forces is important to provide international order at sea and protect the values and interests of our Allies and partners. Now I wish Commodore Mirones and his team all the best – Fair Winds and Following Seas”, added Commodore Skoglund.