On Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 at 10 a.m., the mine-hunting boat “Homburg” will return to its home port in Kiel. The 43-strong crew from the 3rd Mine Detection Squadron participated in the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1 (Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1) for the past three months.
Together with ships and boats from seven NATO nations, the crew trained under the leadership of the US Navy in the North and Baltic Seas – a novelty in the history of SNMCMG 1. At the beginning of October, the leadership of the NATO Group was handed over to Poland. Part of the crew of the mine hunting boat “Homburg” is a team of four soldiers from the Portuguese Navy, who actively supported the Kiel crew in their search for contaminated sites.
In addition to nautical and other association exercises, Historic Ordnance Disposal Operations, missions to search for and remove old ammunition, were on the program. These were carried out in the coastal waters off the Netherlands, Belgium and France and the United Kingdom. “One of the main challenges in our day-to-day life on board is the crampedness and the lack of privacy on board. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was also a dominant issue for us,” says Corvette Captain Florian Holzhüter (32). Adjusted to local incidences and new illnesses in the respective countries, specific shore leave regulations made it possible in some cases for soldiers to leave their boat under certain conditions.
Overall, the commander, who was only promoted to corvette captain at sea, draws a more than good conclusion: “The entire commitment to the same mission has welded the crew together and made us all better. Each and every one of my women and men has made a significant contribution to the mission of the NATO has contributed to the North Atlantic that he and she can be proud of. ”
After the arrival of the “Homburg”, the crew can look forward to a short vacation. Not so for the commanding officer: “Unfortunately, there are only four days of vacation for me because the leadership academy is calling for a staff officer course. That’s just how it is in our job. Sometimes things happen in quick succession.” His greatest joy, however, is the short time he spent with his wife and son, who was only born six days before the “Homburg” left.