Portugal handed over the command of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) to Canada on Jan. 18 in a small ceremony held in Lisbon, Portugal on board HMCS Halifax, the new flagship of the NATO Force.
Under Portuguese command, SNMG1 participated in three major exercises – Joint Warrior 20-2, Orca ‘20 and Flotex Silver ‘20, eight passing exercises and interactions with several Allied and partner navies, air forces and coast guards, as well as visited eight Allied and partner countries – Belgium, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
Portugal had assumed command of SNMG1 on 30 July 2020, providing NATO with a COVID-free, continuously ready force in the waters as far as the Baltic Sea, North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. Led by the Portuguese frigate NRP Corte Real, the group was joined by HMCS Toronto, from August to December, BNS Leopold, from September to November, and FS Somme, in November 2020.
“There is little doubt in my mind that the security and prosperity of our nations rest upon our access to, and our freedom of manoeuvre on, the global commons that is the sea. Therefore, we must deter those who would threaten the interests of our community of common values and seek to compromise the rules which govern those spaces. In the time of COVID-19, learning, adapting, and improving by the day and by the hour, to respond to unexpected challenges and opportunities, were the keys to our deployment: SNMG1 was always operationally ready, thanks to committed and resilient men and women, who deployed in support of our democracy while enforcing the international rule of law,” said Commodore José Mirones, outgoing Commander of SNMG1.
HMCS Halifax, the new SNMG1 flagship is led by Canadian Armed Forces Commodore Bradley Peats, the new Commander of SNMG1.
“I am honored to have the opportunity and privilege of leading SNMG1 and I look forward to building upon the successful deployment of Commodore Mirones, his flagship Corte-Real, and the outgoing SNMG1 staff. In an uncertain global environment, we are proud to contribute to NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in Western and Northern European waters, including the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Norwegian Sea and their maritime approaches,” said Commodore Peats, Commander of SNMG1.
The online Change of Command Ceremony was headed by the Commander of NATO Maritime Command, Vice Admiral Keith Blount.
“Both Canada and Portugal are founding members of NATO, as well as dedicated participants to NATO operations. Today’s handover demonstrates their unwavering commitment to the Alliance day in and day out, even in the most challenging of times. The past six months have shown that NATO’s presence at sea in the North is unrivalled – SNMG1 has persevered, excelled and fulfilled all the tasks we have asked of Commodore Mirones – immense appreciation, and Bravo Zulu to him and his team. The torch now passes to the Canadian Armed Forces Commodore Bradley Peats, whom I trust completely to carry the NATO flag decisively in this year to come,” said the Commander of NATO Maritime Command, Vice Admiral Keith Blount.