Security report: Estonia’s current maritime defense would not stand up to crisis ({{commentsTotal}})

Sailors of the Estonian Navy.
Sailors of the Estonian Navy. Source: (Joel Kivi/ERR)

Estonia’s first thorough maritime security report has revealed that Estonia is lacking a comprehensive overview of what is happening in is territorial waters and that maritime defense is split up between three different institutions who are capable of properly fulfilling only some of the 50 or so tasks assigned to them.

These conclusions, based on two years of work, were reached in November by analysts from the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) and the Baltic Defence College’s Applied Research Centre, according to whom the situation would be salvageable if Estonia’s maritime defense were restructured and re-equipped over the next 15 years, reported daily Postimees.

The report found that Estonia’s current maritime defense may function during peacetime, however it would cease to do so in the upper echelons of crisis, and this due to the lack of ability to compile information necessary for a seaside state, i.e. a composite overview consisting of processed data regarding surface, submarine, amphibious and air activity as well as geographical and environmental information. The analysts confirmed, however, that Estonia is best off when it comes to obtaining geographical and environmental information, an assignment of the Estonian Maritime Administration.

At the same time, Estonia has not assigned the task of unambiguous maritime surveillance to a single institution, and while the Police and Border Guard (PPA) conduct it for maritime rescue and border guard purposes, the image of the sea produced by them does not meet military standards. It also remains unclear who exactly is responsible for providing the state with adequate early warning regarding sea-based military threats as well as which institution demonstrates the state’s sovereignty or guards critical infrastructure such as communication lines and cables in its territorial waters.

The Estonian Navy’s powers are currently enough to satisfy the needs of only a very narrow field of capacity, primarily in minesweeping, however less than satisfactory are the navy’s capabilities in detecting, localizing and identifying surface and submarine targets. Likewise lacking is the capability for defense in case of an attack.

In order to improve on weak links in its capabilities, Estonian maritime security needs a functional overview of its ships, shore base, control and training centers, monitoring network, shore-based missile batteries and air component.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla