Belgian minehunter off to the Med as Ukraine grain shipments start

The Belgian minehunter Narcis is setting sail for the Mediterranean earlier than planned.  The vessel leaves port on Monday with a crew of 47.  The earlier departure is being linked to the UN’s grain deal with Ukraine and Russia. 

The M923 will join the NATO response force.  The western alliance has deployed minehunters in the Med within the framework of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2.

The Group has the job of dealing with mines in and in the vicinity of the Mediterranean.  The fleet can be deployed for military operations as part of NATO’s reaction force, if need be.

“If it’s necessary we can start to help clear mines earlier,” a navy spokesman told reporters. “This is why we are leaving early”.

The dispatch of the Narcis means the fleet will be completely integrated sooner than planned.

The mission in the Mediterranean will last for five months.  There are no plans at present for the vessels to steam into the Black Sea, where grain shipments between Ukraine and Turkey started this week.

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