Standing NATO groups train together in the Baltic Sea

Image Gallery

Navy News / April 12, 2021

Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) conducted three days of training off the coast of Latvia and Estonia from March 29 to 31, 2021.

SNMG1, currently under the command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), and SNMCMG1 are two of four NATO Standing Naval Forces on continuous active duty that contribute 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.

Standing NATO Forces are multinational, integrated maritime forces comprised of warships from various allied countries and are highly interoperable. Furthermore, each Standing NATO Force provides unique and robust operational capabilities that complement each other in their common designated Area of Operations. Such is the case with SNMG1 and SNMCMG1 as both operate primarily in Western and Northern European waters that include the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea and their maritime approaches.

“Our interactions in the Baltic Sea demonstrate NATO unity, readiness and steadfast commitment to the region’s collective defence and served as a powerful deterrent to potential aggressors,” said the RCN’s Commodore Bradley Peats, Commander of SNMG1.

“High levels of interoperability between NATO allies and partners depend 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 (called crosspols) between the two forces on the final two days of interactions. Small boats transferred designated personnel back and forth between SNMG1’s Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax, and SNMCMG1’s Belgian ship Godetia, Estonian ship Ugandi and German ship Datteln

These personnel then job shadowed their counterparts for the day, toured the ships and established personal 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 Standing NATO Force, 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 1st Class Jenny Toole, on board HMCS Halifax.

“Along with a nice change of scenery, sailing in Datteln for the day was a great opportunity to see into the life of a German Navy sailor. Tasked with mine countermeasures, 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!”