The Port of Cartagena hosted the HOTO ceremony of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Maritime Group 2 (SNMCMG2).
The event was held aboard the Offshore Patrol Vessel (BAM in Spanish) 'Meteoro', which was the Group's commanding ship during the second half of the deployment. It was presided over by Dutch Commodore Jeanette Morang, of the Allied Maritime Command.
The outgoing Commander, Captain Javier Núñez de Prado Aparicio, is relieved by Captain Yusuf Karagülle, who will hoist his NATO insignia on the new commanding ship, the Turkish Navy’s 'Güngor Durmus', docked in Aksaz (Turkey). Both ships connected by videoconference to follow the ceremony.
Spain took over command of the SNMCMG2 on June 22, 2021, with the BAM 'Rayo' then being the designated commanding ship. In January 2022, the 'Meteoro' assumed the mission of providing command and control to the Commander of the Group, as well as providing its logistical and support capabilities to the minehunters that were part of the Group. During its deployment, the ship was under the operational control of the Operations Command, dependent on the Defence Staff.
The main SNMCMG2 mission is to remain ready to provide maritime support to any Alliance operation as required, especially in the field of mine warfare.
The Group visited allied countries as well as non-NATO friendly countries, supporting capacity building and deterrence and collective defence in the Mediterranean region. In addition, it has contributed to Defence diplomacy activities and joint training to improve interoperability with different nations.
Throughout the year of commanding role, the SNMCMG2 had a total of 16 different minehunters from different countries such as Germany, Bulgaria, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Romania and Turkey, in different periods, including the Spanish 'Segura' and 'Sella'.
During the 372 days of the mission, a total distance of 35,000 miles has been sailed, which is approximately to go around the world.
Several exercises were carried out during this time such as Breeze-21 in Bulgarian waters, Nusret-21 and Dogu Akdeniz-21 in Turkish waters, Niriis 21 and Ariadne-22 in Greek waters, Italian Minex-22 in Sardinia o Spanish Minex-22 and Flotex-22 in Spain.
This is the third time that Spain takes over command of this Group. The previous ones were also for a period of one year, in 2002-2003 and 2007-2008.
Spanish military aboard the two BAMs and the two minehunters have contributed their effort and dedication to the successful completion of the mission assigned by NATO during these 12 months.