Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) completed training with the Finnish Navy over two days at the end of April.

The Finnish Navy's Coastal Fleet held the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise in the Archipelago Sea, with participants from the Finnish Navy’s 4th Mine Countermeasures Squadron and SNMCMG1.

The exercise is organized at sea, which makes it possible to conduct the exercise without having close contact between the different crews. Due to the threat from COVID-19, no port visits are conducted in Finland.

This cooperation between SNMCMG1 and the Finnish Navy is based on the Finnish Katanpää-Class mine countermeasure vessels being part of NATO Response Force (NRF) pool for 2020.

From the Finnish side, the exercise involved the command echelon of the 4th Mine Countermeasures Squadron and Katanpää-Class mine countermeasure vessel Purunpää.

From NATO side, SNMCMG1 brought the German flagship Donau, the Dutch minehunter Willemstad and the Norwegian minesweeper Otra.

“Finland is one of NATO’s closest partners, sharing common interests of regional stability and maritime security in the Baltic Sea region. I am glad for the opportunity to train and interact with the Finnish Navy,” said Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One, Commander S.G. Henning Knudsen-Hauge.

“The training exercise consists of a series of smaller exercises that focus on not only on mine countermeasures operations, but also on seamanship and coastal navigation. The smaller exercises have been planned to account for the situation caused by COVID-19, so that there will be no close contact between the crews,” commented Commander of the Finnish 4th Mine Countermeasures Squadron, Commander Juhani Lehtimäki.

SNMCMG1 is one of four standing forces that comprise the maritime component of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), which is part of the NATO Response Force. To respond to contingency situations additional forces can be added to these groups, with the NATO command staff onboard and the ships of the group as the nucleus, capable of providing timely support to NATO operations.