Lithuania officially ended over six-month long period of command of NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group ONE (SNMCMG1). On January 22, Commander Giedrius Premeneckas (Lithuanian Navy) handed over command of SNMCMG1 to Commander Peter A.J. Bergen Henegouwen (Royal Netherlands Navy) at Den Helder naval base of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Ministry of National Defence said.

Cdr Premeneckas thanked leaderships of the NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) and the Lithuanian Navy for continuous support and SNMCMG1 staff and crews for excellent performance.

Operating according to an intense training and operational schedule, SNMCMG1 under Lithuanian command spent 77 days at sea and 55 days in ports in August-December. SNMCMG1 activities included participation in internationals training and exercises, mine countermeasures operations, and port visits to numerous NATO and partner countries, all of which demonstrated Alliance solidarity and presence in the region.

"Lessons learned and coordinated work of all the eight crews of SNMCMG1 vessels is a huge advantage for future NATO exercises and operations SNMCMG1 will attend," outgoing SNMCMG1 commander Cdr Premeneckas said at the change of command ceremony.

According to NATO Allied Maritime Command's Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Commodore Arian Minderhoud, SNMCMG1 under command of Cdr Premeneckas played a major role as it operated in the northern waters of Europe in the second semester of 2014 because the evolving security situation makes it crucial to demonstrate NATO commitment to collective defence.

On 22 January LNS Jotvingis (N42) also ended her standby as SNMCMG1 flagship.

Lithuania was the first of the Baltic States to be entrusted with heading SNMCMG1, and commissioning its commander, flagship, and staff. The Lithuanian commander had been in charge of a particularly large group of eight vessels (contributed by Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands and Germany) since 7 August 2014.

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