President Kersti Kaljulaid observed an Estonian Navy (Merevägi) exercise on Tuesday, which focused on sea mine destruction and removal, in cooperation with NATO allies. The outing was part of a three-day trip to Saaremaa, Muhu and Hiiumaa which the president is on this week, fulfilling a promise to make the islands the first port of call following the lifting of the government's coronavirus emergency situation, on Sunday night.
The maneuvers saw the navy blow up German sea mine dating back to World War Two which had been lying on the sea bed, with a somewhat spectacular resulting plume of water (see photo), in the Väinameri, the stretch of water between Saaremaa and Hiiumaa.
"This is exactly the type of pillar [of water] that three quarters of a ton of explosives blows up," the president, who was aboard the Estonian Navy flagship the Admiral Cowan, wrote on her social media account Tuesday evening.
The Väinameri is barely 20 meters in depth between Estonia's two largest islands, and saw extensive mine-laying by the navies of both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during the war.
"Our navy and mines are at a high premium among the allies. As our navy's most experienced people, who have seen similar work on all the seas of the world, would say, the Estonian coast is probably the most mined [in the world]. Scars from our history, what to do...Actually, there is plenty to do, and that's exactly what our navy engages in. To ensure that our maritime traffic and freedom of movement are not hindered by mines. Neither in the past nor in the potential future. It's good to see our ship and its crew carries out a very good level of daily work, because in this shallow water, it is a key capability for us."
The president's island trip continues Wednesday on terra firma on Hiiumaa, and takes in visits with local business leaders and politicians, a trip to a care home on the island, and a remote lesson conducted online for high school students in Viimsi, near Tallinn.
Editor: Andrew Whyte