June 12, 2020 (Google Translation) – The NATO frigate association SNMG 1 (Standing NATO Maritime Group 1) arrives at the naval base in Kiel on Wednesday, June 17, 2020. The Norwegian frigate HNoMS “Otto Sverdrup” leads the association as a flagship. In addition, the Canadian frigate HMCS “Fredericton” and the German fuel transporter “Rhön” currently belong to SNMG 1.
After the ships were moved from the Mediterranean to Northern European waters a few weeks ago, they took part in the “JOINT WARRIOR” maneuver off Scotland, practiced with Swedish and Finnish ships, temporarily integrated a Polish frigate into the association and are now returning from it back from the 6th US fleet “BALTOPS”, which has been taking place annually in June since 1972.
“The Baltic Sea is an important area for the NATO ship associations in Northern Europe. Our partners depend on free access and safe sea routes. For this we are present in the Baltic Sea and visit NATO and EU partners. I am particularly looking forward to the visit in Kiel after we have finished our participation in ‘BALTOPS’ “, says Norwegian flotilla admiral Yngve Skoglund, commander of SNMG 1.
15 percent of the world’s maritime trade is carried out on the Baltic Sea – this sea is the only “wet” supply route for allies in Poland and the Baltic States, a lifeline with only natural access through Danish waters. The freedom and security of these routes are of strategic interest. All EU and NATO Baltic Sea states can be found in the exercise “BALTOPS”, in which 29 ships and just as many aircraft meet. Around 3,000 soldiers from 19 nations practice military cooperation in the navigationally and tactically demanding operational area of the Baltic Sea.
As in the previous year, Kiel is the start and end point of the maneuver, and many units will head for the naval port in the Wik. The entry parade is traditionally the starting signal for Kiel Week. “Due to the Covid19 pandemic, we are unfortunately unable to make a regular port visit or shore leave for our crews in Kiel. It is only of a logistical nature – nevertheless it is important for us to visit Germany. We are happy to be with the Germans Navy to participate in ‘BALTOPS’, “said Flotilla Admiral Skoglund.
The naval base in Kiel is close to the Baltic Sea entrances at a strategically important and well-protected location. The base regulates the entire logistical needs of domestic and foreign naval vessels. For ships and boats at sea, it is both a port, a service center and a logistics hub.
NATO maintains four permanent maritime operations units, which are manned by ships and boats by the member states and which, together with air and land forces and special forces, form NATO RESPONSE FORCE, which was established in 2002. The SNMG 1 is subordinate to the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) in Northwood (Great Britain).
The crews have completed a training program lasting several months and are at a high level of equipment and training. They can be moved quickly according to NATO and national decisions and are available for crisis management operations as well as for collective defense measures. They are under the supreme command of the NATO commander in Europe. The NATO RESPONSE FORCE was expanded in 2014 to include a VERY HIGH READINESS JOINT TASK FORCE known as the “spearhead”, which also includes the maritime intervention groups. The contraction in the naval associations also serves for joint training and qualification, which is why the groups regularly take part in NATO maneuvers or exercises at the invitation of individual member states.
The formation of a NATO RESPONSE FORCE also serves to provide joint training and qualification, which is why the associations regularly participate in maneuvers under NATO leadership or at the invitation of individual member states. The SNMG1 operates all year round in the North and Baltic Seas as well as in the Atlantic, the SNMG 2 mainly in the Mediterranean and adjacent sea areas. The groups are ready for action at sea and train all aspects of maritime warfare. They demonstrate the determination and cohesion of the alliance and deepen cooperation with partner countries through port visits and exchange programs.