According to a press release from the navy, the multinational Naval Force, which will also include NATO’s Standing Anti-Mine Action Group in the Mediterranean (SNMCMG-2) and the European Maritime Force (Euromarfor), will be commanded by Captain Francisco Javier Ruiz y Ruiz de Cortázar, Commander of the Spanish Navy’s Mine Action Force, on board the Maritime Action Vessel Furor.
Yesterday, all the group’s participating ships arrived in Mahon, Minorca, to prepare for the large-scale mine warfare exercise in the Mediterranean.
They added that the naval force has sophisticated underwater detection systems on board and divers specialised in mine warfare.
The force’s assets include state-of-the-art underwater robots that complement the capabilities of the Mine Hunters.
The group is scheduled to dock in the Porto Pi naval base in Palma from April 29 to May 1, and also at the end of the exercise, on the evening of 6 May.
The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Groups – SNMCMG1 and SNMCMG2 – are multinational forces that primarily engage in search and explosive ordnance disposal operations. SNMCMG2 also conducts historical ordnance disposal operations to minimise the threat from mines dating back to the Second World War.
Both SNMCMG groups are key assets in the NATO Response Force (NRF) and are able to fulfil a wide range of roles from humanitarian tasks to operations.
They can deploy at short notice and are often the first assets to enter an operational theatre.
SNMCMG1 was formed in the Belgian port of Ostend on 11 May 1973 to ensure safety of navigation around the ports of the English Channel and northwest Europe. Originally called “Standing Naval Force Channel”, its name was changed several times to reflect its expanding area of operation. Today, the Group is capable of operating nearly anywhere in the world.
SNMCMG2 developed from an on-call force for the Mediterranean, which was created in 1969. It also evolved over time to reflect its new responsibilities.
SNMCMG2 and SNMCMG1 were both given their current names in 2006.
SNMG1 and SNMG2 fall under the authority of Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), Northwood, United Kingdom following MARCOM’s December 2012 inauguration as the operational hub for all Alliance maritime operations. MARCOM also has two subordinate commands – Submarine Command (COMSUBNATO) and Maritime Air Command (COMMARAIR) – as well as the NATO Shipping Centre, which plays an important role in countering piracy.
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