The British Royal Navy has transferred command of the Standing Nato Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) to the Royal Netherlands Navy after completing a 12-month period of leadership.

Royal Navy commodore Mike Utley formally handed over command of SNMG2 to Dutch counterpart commodore Boudewijn Boots as part of the development.

The Dutch Navy light cruiser HNLMS De Ruyters also assumed the SNMG2 Flagship role from the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan during the ceremony.

"To Command SNMG2 during a successful deployment and a period of significant UK contribution to Nato has been an honour."

Utley said: “To Command SNMG2 during a successful deployment and a period of significant UK contribution to Nato has been an honour.

“I am proud of the achievements and the contributions made to maritime security, regional stability and Defence Engagement whilst operating in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

“The delivery of such strategic effect has been made possible by having a highly capable and versatile Flagship such as HMS Duncan, and all the allied ships which have worked with us.”

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The Royal Navy primarily focused on operational output during the UK’s command of SNMG2 with the aim of improving the country’s warfighting capabilities, as well as bolstering reassurance to regional partners and providing a strategic deterrence effect.

SNMG2 fulfils a vital contingency role in the Mediterranean region by being ready to respond to emerging threats at all times as part of a combined and effective Nato force.

The Royal Navy’s ships HMS Ocean and HMS Diamond also assumed the SNMG2 Flagship role during the 12-month period.