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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).

During the seven months of Lithuanian command:

  • SNMCMG1 covered almost 10,000 nautical miles.
  • flew the NATO flag and contributed 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.
  • improved 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.

Commander Jan Wijchers will command SNMCMG1 from the flagship BNS GODETIA of the Belgian Navy.

Jack Richardson