Polish sailors have taken command of one of NATO’s four Standing Ship Teams, the ‘Mine Shield’, which operates in northern European waters. Command of the NATO Standing Mine Defence Force Team Group 1 will last six months.
– This team is dedicated to ensuring the safety of shipping routes in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the eastern part of the Atlantic. On the other hand, there are also a number of tasks which result from the purpose of this team, i.e. searching for, destroying and neutralising any remnants of World War II that lie on the bottom of the Baltic Sea,’ Lieutenant Commander Piotr Bartosewicz conveyed.
An important task of the team is also to demonstrate the solidarity of the members of the alliance and to ensure the safety of the sea communication routes. In this way, the team’s ships form a mine defence system in sea areas referred to as the ‘Mine Shield’ for Europe.
The force can also be directed to support counter-terrorism operations, life-saving operations and emergency response. The naval teams are among the most effective elements of the so-called NATO Response Force (NRF).
The teams spend most of their time at sea, including coordinating the interoperability of their constituent ships and participating in manoeuvres with the navies of NATO member and partner states.
– This is a historic moment for us, as it is the first time in history that the Polish Navy has fielded such a large representation for a team. Usually it was the staff, the commander and the flagship. In this case, we have enriched it with two ships from the 12th minesweeper squadron from Świnoujście, these are the minesweepers ORP Drużno and ORP Hańcza. They bring additional capabilities to the team,’ reported Lieutenant Commander Piotr Bartosewicz.
– ‘At the peak of operations, I will have about ten ships in subordination, with a total of about 500 personnel,’ he added.
Second Lieutenant Commander Piotr Bartosewicz is the fifth Navy officer ever to be entrusted with the command of the NATO Standing Mine Defence Force Team.
The North Atlantic Alliance maintains four ship teams in permanent rotational service. Two of these are teams of large surface vessels, mainly destroyers and missile frigates often supported by a supply vessel, Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 and 2. While other two are teams of mine countermeasures vessels with a multi-role command ship, Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 and 2. Typically, Group One operates in the north of Europe, while Group Number Two operates in the south of the continent.
The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Force Group 1 command will last six months. During this time, the flagship of the team will be the command ship of the Mine Defence Force – ORP Kontradmirał Xawery Czernicki.