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18 Jan 2024

Italy hands over command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Task Group 2

Italy hands over command of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Task Group 2
NATO Allied Maritime Command
NATO Allied Maritime Command Press Release

Italian Navy Captain Ettore Ronco have handed over command of NATO Mine Countermeasures Task Group 2 (SNMCMG2) to Greek Navy Captain Fotis Paraskevas.

NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) Deputy Chief of Staff Operation, Rear Admiral Stefan Pauly, presided over the change of command ceremony on behalf of Commander MARCOM.

Captain Ronco and his international staff hoisted the NATO flag on board ITS Stromboli last July, marking the start of their six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. During that time, nine minehunters from five Allied nations and one Croatian diving team have served with the group.

The ships took part in a busy programme of multinational NATO training exercises, including Dynamic Move and Dynamic Mariner/Mare Aperto (Italy), Dynamic Messenger (Portugal), Dogu Akdeniz and Nusret (Türkiye). These exercises provided a valuable opportunity to improve interoperability and to test the procedures and capabilities of NATO maritime assets involved in Naval Mine Warfare.

The Task Group also supported Operation Sea Guardian, helping to secure the Mediterranean Sea by conducting hailing activities, assisting freedom of navigation and increasing maritime situational awareness. 

Throughout the deployment, the ships carried out regular port visits, strengthening relationships with Allied and Partner nations, and making a valuable contribution to NATO’s diplomatic efforts.

“I’m very satisfied with all we achieved over the last six months and I’m privileged to have commanded this multinational Task Group,” said Captain Ronco as he handed over command. “We maintained the highest standards of operational readiness and mine countermeasure capabilities. I am particularly proud of the cohesion between the members of my staff, and between the staff and the crewmembers. We may come from different nations with different experiences, but we made this our strength, helping each other every day to do even better. We certainly lived up to the NATO motto “stronger together”.”

The Hellenic Navy will lead the task group for the next months.

“I feel blessed and honored to assume the command of SNMCMG2,” said Captain Fotios Paraskevas. “I will make every effort to meet the demands and responsibilities of my duties with honor, respect and pride. The NATO flag will be hoisted again on board the Hellenic General Supply Ship HS Iraklis. My Task Group will sail the Mediterranean throughout the next six months, ensuring we meet all our objectives, including integration, interoperability, cohesion and naval diplomacy, while maintaining the highest state of readiness and training.”

SNMCMG2 is one of four standing naval forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF). To respond to contingency situations, additional forces can be added to this group, with the NATO command staff on board the Flagship, to be capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.

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