Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2) and also, Standing NATO Maritime Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG-2) HOTO ceremonies were held on June 22, 2021.
The ceremonies took place at Cartagena Cruise Terminal, on board the frigate `Méndez Núñez´ as outgoing SNMG-2 flagship, and on board the Maritime Action Vessel ‘Rayo´, as incoming SNMCMG-2 flagship.
Spanish rear admiral Manuel Aguirre Aldereguía handed over the command of SNMG-2 group to Italian rear admiral Stefano Russo, who took part in the ceremony by videoconference.
Regarding the SNMCMG-2 group, Spanish navy captain Javier Núñez de Prado Aparicio took over the command of the group from the French captain Gregory Guiran.
Both ceremonies were presided over by French Admiral Didier Piaton, Deputy Commander of NATO's Allied Maritime Command in Northwood (United Kingdom).
Standing NATO Maritime Groups SNMG-2 and SNMCMG-2
Standing NATO Maritime Groups, which include escort groups (SNMG-1/2) and counter-mine action groups (SNMCMG-1/2) are the NATO forces that provide permanent maritime presence.
Since June 2020, Spain has commanded the SNMG-2 grouping, with rear admiral Aguirre being the officer who has held command of the group throughout the period, hoisting his insignia and embarking with his international staff on board the frigates 'Alvaro de Bazán', 'Cristóbal Colón' and 'Méndez Núñez'.
During Rear Admiral Aguirre's tenure, up to 17 ships of 8 different nationalities were integrated into the group, participating in the main allied and multinational exercises that were held in the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean waters, also carrying out port calls to both allied countries and countries associated with NATO, such as Algeria, Ukraine, Israel and Georgia, thus contributing to the Alliance's diplomatic effort.
With regard to the SNMCMG-2 group, captain Núñez de Prado has taken over the command of the group until June 2022, hoisting his insignia onboard the offshore patrol vessel 'Rayo', which will be handed over in January 2022 by the 'Meteoro', both of them belonging to the same 'Meteoro' class. This is the third time that Spain takes over command of this group of anti-mine measures, after doing so in 2002 and 2007, in those cases with ‘Segura’-class minehunters.
During this deployment, it is expected to take part in the following international exercises 'Breeze', 'Dynamic Move-2', 'Nusret', 'Dogu Akdeniz', 'Niriis', 'ESP Minex', 'ITA Minex', 'ESP Flotex', 'Ariadne' and 'Sea Shield' and visiting several ports in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Offshore patrol vessel Rayo's crew is made uo of 53 people, including the international Staff, Marines security team and a reinforced medical team.