March 10, 2020 (Google Translation) – On Friday, March 13th at 8 a.m., the Standing NATO Mine Defense Association SNMCMG1 (Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1) will arrive at the naval base in Kiel. The ships will remain in the port of Wik until Monday, March 16. In addition to the lead ship, the association consists of a Belgian, a British and a Dutch mine hunt boat. A Norwegian minesweeper and a German mine hunting boat will join at the end of next week. The German tender “Donau” from the Kiel Support Squadron is the flagship and leading ship for the Norwegian frigate captain Henning Knudsen-Hauge, who is leading the association as Commander SNMCMG1. With this task force, Allianz can react quickly to threats from underwater mines in the northern European waters.
The Belgian mine-hunter “Bellis”, the British mine-hunter “Grimsby” and the Dutch mine-hunter “Willemstad” currently form the SNMCMG1 and will be launched in the coming week by the German mine-hunting boat “Grömitz” from Kiel’s 3rd mine-search squadron and the Norwegian mine-search boat “Otra” reinforced. The crews have all completed a demanding training program and are trained and certified to the highest standard against mines. They train all aspects of mine control, are constantly on standby and are part of the NATO Response Force.
For the Norwegian commander it is clear what significance mine defense has for the supply routes over sea: “No mine defense means no reinforcement”, says frigate captain Knudsen-Hauge. And means that sea mines can block entire supply chains. For Germany and its allies, the sea routes are two different things: lifeline and wet flank. Especially where only a few artificial or natural paths lead into a body of water – such as the Baltic Sea, which is the only “wet” supply route for NATO partners in the Baltic States. Even the threat potential of a single mine can make shipping routes such as the Great Belt or the Kiel Canal impossible to pass for days.