The ships, forming NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), are scheduled to undertake maritime exercises and routine training alongside regional partners.
Both task groups are part of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), providing a presence to support regional stability and support allied naval capabilities.
According to NATO, the regional deployments are in line with the alliance’s treaty obligations, maintaining defensive capabilities in the Baltic.
The SNMG1 is headed by the Royal Netherlands Navy’s Commodore A. van de Sande, with the HNLMS De Zeven Provincien, the FGS Berlin, HDMS Peter Willemoes, FGS Erfurt and HMS Northumberland all in service.
It is expected that the Mine Countermeasures group will consist of the LVNS Virsaitis, BNS Lobelia, FGS Bad Bevensen, ENS Sakala, HMS Grimsby, HNLMS Schiedam as well as the HNOMS Hinnoy, headed by Commander Ott Laanemets.
The SNMCMG1 is a continuously ready group, tasked to clear explosives underwater.
In late March, the US Department has announced the deployment of six US Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.
The Growlers will be accompanied by about 240 air crew, aircraft maintainers and pilots.
The deployment aims to strengthen air integration capabilities with NATO allies, in a bid to “bolster readiness” and enhance NATO’s “collective defence posture”.
The Pentagon stressed the aircraft would not be deployed against Russian forces in Ukraine but would instead support deterrence along NATO’s eastern flank – unrelated to a perceived threat or incident.
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Press Secretary John Kirby said the move follows consultation between Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Commander of the US European Command, US Air Force General Tod Wolters, and the German government.
“This deployment is a prudent decision to continue to re-evaluate our force posture on NATO’s eastern flank,” Press Secretary Kirby added.
The Pentagon’s deployment of EA-18G Growlers to Germany comes just weeks after US President Joe Biden announced an additional US$800 million ($1.09 billion) in direct security assistance to Ukraine, aimed at supporting the nation’s resistance to Russian aggression.