Naval Warfare

France Navy Hands Over Command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two to Royal Canadian Navy

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France Navy Hands Over Command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two to Royal Canadian Navy

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France Navy Hands Over Command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two to Royal Canadian Navy
France Navy Hands Over Command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two to Royal Canadian Navy

French Navy Rear Admiral Yannick Bossu handed over command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) to the Royal Canadian Navy Commodore Matthew Coates on 1 July, during a ceremony on board the Durance-class command and replenishment tanker FS Somme. NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) Deputy Commander, French Navy Vice Admiral Didier Maleterre, presided over the change of command ceremony. This was the first time France has commanded SNMG2, although French ships have often served in NATO Standing Naval Forces, demonstrating France’s commitment to the Defense of Alliance vital interests. The handover marked the end of a three-month deployment for SNMG2 during volatile times, with the war in Ukraine, rising tensions in the Middle East and the Houthi crisis in the Red Sea. From 5 April to 1 July, the Task Group carried out its mission in the Eastern and Central Mediterranean Sea. During this mission, SNMG2 demonstrated solidarity and reinforced interoperability with Partners and Allies, through its presence contributing to the stability of the Alliance’s southeastern flank.

“I am honored and humbled to assume command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two. Assuming command of this task group is an extraordinary privilege and I look forward to the challenge; knowing that together, united by a common purpose and a common set of values and procedures, the Alliance is stronger than the sum of its individual parts,” said Canadian Navy Commodore Matthew Coates.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve as Commander of SNMG2, this command at sea, the first for France, has been a most rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. This is largely owed to the tremendous work and dedication of the people I had the pleasure to work with; my staff for their teamwork and loyalty, the commanding officers and ship’s companies of the surface combatants that integrated SNMG2 for their warfighting spirit, and the staff in HQ MARCOM for their unwavering support,” French Navy Vice Admiral Didier Maleterre said.

Furthermore, FS Somme provided valuable logistical support to Allied units, through numerous replenishments at sea. SNMG2 also conducted accurate surveillance of Russian activities the Mediterranean. Under the French deployment, the Hellenic frigate Themistocles and Turkish frigate Yavuz served in SNMG2 for several weeks. The group took part in the multi-domain reinforced vigilance activity Exercise Neptune Strike 24-1 and in a NATO air defence exercise. SNMG2 also collaborated on numerous occasions with US 6th fleet as well as French, Greek, Italian and Spanish units under national operational control. It also escorted the US aircraft carrier USS Dwight Eisenhower during her short stay in the Mediterranean Sea. At the beginning of June, SNMG2 patrolled with the Italian carrier battle group towards the Suez Canal for several days. This mission provided an opportunity to carry out a number of operational cooperation activities between NATO ships, including helicopter maneuvers, tactical evolutions, anti-submarine, anti-aircraft and even multi-domain warfare exercises with Greek ships on a national exercise off Crete.

Moreover, operational calls in Greece and Türkiye enabled the Commander of SNMG2 to meet a number of military authorities and thus consolidate the strong cohesion between NATO nations. This operational deployment met NATO’s key objectives of interoperability and cohesion between its member units, and established a continued presence on the Alliance’s southeastern borders. Following the change of command, SNMG2 will continue to guarantee NATO presence in the Mediterranean Sea under Canadian leadership, to deter any adversary and protect freedom of navigation in international waters, demonstrating Canada’s commitment to NATO’s founding principles. SNMG2 is one of four Standing Naval Forces that operate under NATO Allied Maritime Command, headquartered in Northwood, United Kingdom. SNMG2 is a multinational integrated task group that projects a constant and visible reminder of the Alliance’s solidarity and cohesion afloat. This continuous maritime capability performs a wide range of tasks, including exercises and real-world operations in periods of crisis and conflict.

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