Estonian minehunter Sakala to join NATO mine countermeasures group ({{commentsTotal}})

A cache of smuggled liquor and tobacco was recently discovered aboard the Estonian minesweeper Sakala. Source: (Ardi Hallismaa)

The Estonian Navy minehunter EML Sakala (M314) departed Tallinn for Kiel, Germany, on Tuesday to join Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1).

According to military spokespeople in Tallinn, the commander of the vessel, Lt. Cmdr. Ott Laanemets, said that the crew of the Sakala is ready for service with SNMCMG1, as many of the crew members have served previously served with the mine countermeasures group and a NATO combat readiness test was recently passed successfully as well.

The Sakala and its crew passed the combat readiness test in mid-June. In the exercise that concluded the two-week test, an attack on the vessel in which the ship's commander was killed was simulated, during which the crew had to act on their own to repel the enemy and liquidate the consequences of the attack, according to the exercise scenario.

While Estonian Navy vessels have served as part of the NATO mine countermeasures group several times over the past more than ten years, this is the first time that the SNMCMG1 is headed by an officer of the Estonian Navy.

The Estonian officer, Cmdr. Johan-Elias Seljamaa, took command of SNMCMG1 at the beginning of June. In addition to Seljamaa, three more officers of the Estonian Navy are currently serving at the headquarters headed by him.

The EML Sakala, the crew of which includes three conscripts, will begin training together with other NATO allies next week.

SNMCMG1 is one of four NATO naval teams operating in the international arena.

The Estonian officer, Cmdr. Johan-Elias Seljamaa, took command of SNMCMG1 at the beginning of June and in addition to him three officers of the Estonian navy are serving at the headquarters headed by him.

Sakala, the crew of which includes three conscripts, will start training with allies next week. Unlike Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 and 2 (SNMG1 and 2), which bring together large surface vessels such as destroyers and frigates, SNMCMG1 and 2 are made up of minehunters and minesweepers.

Groups designated as One (SNMG1, SNMCMG1) operate on the waters of Northern Europe, while those designated as Two (SNMG2, SNMCMG2) operate in Southern Europe.

Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik

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