The United Kingdom has officially handed command of the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two to Italy.
The change of command took place in Taranto, Italy, on the outgoing flagship Royal Navy HMS Duncan. Present during the event were Royal Navy Cmdr. Paul Stroude, who led SNMG2 over the past five months, and Rear Adm. Pasquale Esposito of the Italian Navy, the new commander of the standing naval force.
Spanish Navy Rear Adm. Jose Enrique Delgado, chief of staff of the Allied Maritime Command, presided over the ceremony.
“This change of command is a profound reaffirmation of the bond and cohesion that exists amongst NATO member states,” Delgado said.
SNMG2 is a multinational integrated task force that operates under the NATO Allied Maritime Command. Since Stroude took over in June, 19 ships from nine NATO nations have contributed directly to the task group. SNMG2 also worked with dozens more ships, submarines and aircraft from allies.
“Under my command, the task group will continue to demonstrate how well NATO allies operate together,” Esposito said.
The handover ceremony also makes the Italian Navy ITS Carlo Bergamini, a guided-missile frigate, the naval force’s new flagship.