Story by PO2 Cameron Stoner on 09/08/2019ROTA, Spain (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107), flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1), pulled into Naval Station Rota for their final port visit with SNMG1 July 23.
While in Rota, the flagship duties and SNMG1 staff will transition over to the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101). Rear Adm. Edward Cashman will remain the commander of SNMG1 for the remainder of the year.
Gravely departed Naval Station Norfolk December 28 with 320 embarked Sailors and 20 SNMG1 staff including foreign officers, U.S. Navy officers, and U.S. Navy enlisted Sailors. Demonstrating the dynamic spirit of NATO, the crew and staff integrated seamlessly and collaborated throughout the six months spent together to achieve a successful first semester.
"I am extremely grateful the USS Gravely was chosen to serve as the Flagship for SNMG1," said Commanding Officer Justin Hodges. "The chance to embark a Staff and integrate with our NATO allies and partners was a unique and invaluable opportunity for the crew, not easily found anywhere else. The success of this deployment continues to demonstrate the foundations upon which NATO was built - that our effectiveness as a force is enhanced by our partnerships and alliance with other nations."
Following the quick integration, SNMG1 went on to effectively complete operations in the North Atlantic and Baltic Seas, and multiple exercises such as Dynamic Guard, Joint Warrior, BALTOPS 2019, and Dynamic Mongoose. These four major exercises displayed the capabilities of NATO's maritime forces to operate across the full spectrum of warfare areas, as well as, integrate with air, ground, and other surface units through joint operations with NATO partners and allies.
Following Rota, SNMG1 will reassemble the force and continue on their 2019 deployment. The second half of the deployment will see a focus on NATO's new Maritime Express construct and more exercises and operations aimed at building and maintaining our readiness and interoperability.
"The standing NATO maritime forces provide a continuous, enduring capability," said Cashman. "As units and staff members rotate through the Standing Maritime Forces, there is a steady stream of ships with young men and women on board, who regularly join our services. They all learn NATO procedures as we operate together. They are the reason we must continue to train together, so that in the future they will carry on our mission to preserve peace by deterring conflict."
SNMG1 is one of four standing maritime task groups composed of ships from various Allied countries. These task groups form the core maritime capabilities of NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). They provide a continuous maritime capability to execute NATO missions across the spectrum of operations, demonstrate solidarity, and strengthen diplomatic and professional links among Allied naval forces.