On August 24, the Belgian naval ship M917 Crocus will set sail towards the Baltic Sea for three months. Under the command of Lieutenant 1st Class Marie-France Godeau, the ship will be deployed within one of NATO’s four permanent naval squadrons, the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group1 (SNMCMG1).
This permanent squadron of minehunters, in which Belgium participates every year, aims to continue to eliminate historical explosive devices in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, to maintain interoperability between ships coming from different NATO member countries , to assert NATO's presence and solidarity at its borders, and of course to allow NATO to have a rapid intervention force in the event of a crisis.
The squadron will consist of seven ships from various NATO member countries: the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
The crew of Crocus, comprising 42 personnel, includes a team of Sonar and AUV (submarine robot) operators, a team of clearance divers and a medical team.
The ship has successfully passed the demanding operational tests and is ready for this deployment despite the difficult circumstances related to COVID-19. Crew members, who were quarantined the 14 days prior to departure and subjected to a COVID test, will initially at least be deprived from going ashore during stopovers during this mission.
The minehunter's return to her home port in Zeebrugge is scheduled for November 20, 2020.