The USS Gravely, the flagship for Standing NATO Maritime Group, is moored Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photo by Chief Petty Officer Christian Valverde/NATO
Jan. 15 (UPI) -- The USS Gravely was named the flagship for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Standing Maritime Group 1 during a ceremony in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer left its homeport Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Dec. 28 for the Mediterranean Sea to join SNMG 1.
The vessel is part of the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet.
On Monday, Rear Adm. Edward Cashman assumed command of the group from Royal Danish Navy Commodore Anders Friis and will command the group from the new flagship.
Cashman previously served as special assistant to commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
The Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 is beginning its 51st year of existence, and the 70th anniversary year of the NATO alliance.
SNMG-1, which is one of four standing maritime forces composed of ships from allied countries, provide a continuous maritime capability for NATO.
"I understand how important our mission is and what a critical time in history we are living in," Cashman said. "The North Atlantic is a bridge that connects the allies, not a barrier that separates them. That connectivity is even stronger today and more important than ever to our security and to our prosperity."
SNMG-1 had been under Danish command since January 2018, with the Niels Juel followed by Esbern Snare serving as flagship.
Last May, the Gravely participated in exercise Joint Warrior 18-1, an 11-day, semi-annual training exercise in the coastal waters of Britain.
Recently, Gravely participated in a pre-deployment exercise that certified the Marine expeditionary units and amphibious group's abilities to conduct military operations at sea.
On Oct. 21, Gravely responded to a real-world distress call from a sailboat in the Atlantic Ocean. No medical assistance or emergency supplies were needed.
The Gravely was commissioned in Wilmington, N.C., in 2010. Vice Adm. Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr., who died in 2004, was the first African American to command a warship, including in combat, and a numbered fleet.
The ship carries 36 officers and 282 enlisted sailors.