KNM Hinnøy sammen med resten av standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) seiler inn til Klapeida havn i Litauen.

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1

Mines still pose a threat to civilian and military maritime traffic. Norway regularly deploys vessels and personnel to NATO's standing minesweeper forces.

Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) is one of NATO's two standing maritime mine countermeasures groups. The multinational naval force can solve a variety of tasks and missions nearly anywhere in the world.

Norwegian participations

Since 1984, Norway has been an important contributor to NATO's Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1. Norway​​​​ led the force in 1998–99, 2004–05, 2012, 2014 and 2020.

From March 2022, Norway contributes with the minesweeper HNoMS Hinnøy. Until the summer, the vessel is an integrated part of the fleet, and under the command of the force commander.

The operation

The force can be deployed on short notice and is an important contribution to naval operations. The mine countermeasures group regularly removes sea mines from previous conflicts and thereby reducing the risk to maritime activity, as well as contributing to environmental clean-up.

In addition to mine clerance, the force's main tasks are to patrol the waters of Northern Europe to show NATO presence and monitor ship traffic. This helps the Alliance in gaining situational awareness of what is going on at sea and in ports in NATO's areas of interest.

The force is led by the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), based in Mons, Belgium. Day-to-day operations are delegated to NATO's maritime command in Northwood, UK.

The operation

NATO's Standing Mine Countermeasures Group was established in Belgium on 11 May 1973 and was renamed the Standing Naval Force Channel. The name was later changed to Mine Counter Measure Force North, before being renamed Standing NATO Mine Counter Measure Group 1.

The founding of the force was a recognition of the importance of protecting the strategically important sea routes against a possible mine threat.

Even today, European waters still carry huge amounts of mines and other types of ammunition and explosives after two world wars. This still makes mines a threat within maritime warfare. Many states have the capacity to deploy sea mines, which is an effective way to close ports, canals and vital sea routes.