NATO mine countermeasures group changes hands

NATO’s Standing Mine Counter Measures Group One (SNMCMG1) will be led by a Latvian Navy commander following a change of command ceremony at the Port of Riga on Thursday.

Commander Johan-Elias Seljamaa of the Estonian Navy turned over command of the group after leading aboard the flagship, Estonian command and support ship ENS Wambola since Feb. 13, 2017.

He began the deployment aboard German MCM command and control vessel FGS Elbe in June 2016, and also led aboard minehunter ENS Admiral Cowan for a month earlier this year.

Throughout the yearlong deployment, SNMCMG1 was comprised of various ships including: Belgian minehunters BNS Narcis and Primula, Dutch minehunter HNLMS Schiedam and Willemstad, Latvian minehunter Imanta, Lithuanian minehunter LNS Skalvis, Norwegian minehunter HNoMS Hinnoey and Måløy, and British MCM vessels HMS Grimsby, Ramsey and Shoreham.

The new commander of the group, Commander Gvido Laudups will lead from the new SNMCMG1 flagship, Latvian MCM command and support ship LVNS Virsaitis with a multinational command group comprised of Danish, Latvian and Lithuanian sailors.

“This is the first time for Latvia to take command of SNMCMG1, and I hope this will be a period of professional work,” said Laudups. “We are determined to rise to the challenge and add new knowledge and skills to our experience.”

The Virsaitis will initially be joined by Estonian minehunter ENS Sakala and German minehunter FGS Sulzbach-Rosenberg.

Ships from Belgium, Netherlands, and Norway will join SNMCMG1 later this year.