Estonian Navy Officer takes command of NATO Mine Countermeasures Group

Wednesday's handover ceremony in Tallinn.
Wednesday's handover ceremony in Tallinn. Source: EDF

An Estonian Navy (Merevägi) officer has been appointed new commander of a NATO mines countermeasures group.

Naval (Merevägi) Officer Cdr Ott Laanemets is now the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1), and has relieved Cdr Michal Dziugan of the Polish Navy (Marynarka Wojenna), following a ceremony held in Tallinn Wednesday.

Cdr Laanemets said: "I am humbled to take command of SNMCMG1. I and most Estonian sailors have been deployed to SNMCMG1 many times, and SNMCMG1 has been a red thin line through the whole of Estonian Navy's development, integration to NATO and operating alongside allies."

"Since its establishment in 1973 the SNMCMG1's tasks have remained the same – provide the alliance with immediately ready mine countermeasures capability and demonstrate the cohesion of allies. I will do my best to deliver a ready mine countermeasures capability for the Alliance during these challenging times," he went on, according to an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) press release.

Poland's ambassador to Estonia Grzegorz Kozłowski attended the ceremony in Tallinn, as did as Cdr Dziugan and the outgoing SNMCMG1 staff, the crew of the new group's staff ship, the Latvian Navy's (Latvijas Jūras spēki) LNVS Virsaitis, a mine-layer, and the crew of the Merevägi's minehunter EML Sakala, which will also be a part of the SNMCMG1 this year and a vessel which Cdr Laanemets has previously commanded.

Cdr Dziugan said: "Every organization, group is as strong, as the people making it, and we had luck to have within the staff and command platform to meet and to cooperate with amazing people."

Cdr Laanemets, a former SNMCMG1 chief of staff, will be responsible for leading the unit and maintaining combat readiness as part of the NATO Response Force, including training within the SNMCMG1, exercises with allies, mine countermeasures operations and participation in major NATO exercises.

As per tradition, the new commander's pennant was hoisted atop the LVNS Virsaitis and the former commander's pennant returned.

Since 2005, Estonia has been contributing to the NATO Mine Countermeasures Group one via staff ships, minehunters and a commander and staff.

The minehunters take part of the group annually, the Estonian commander and the staff have previously been a part of SNCMGM1 once in 2016-2017.

The Merevägi is organizationally a part of the EDF and not a standalone service.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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