A joint mine clearance exercise of the navies of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 3B Divex 2020, is taking place in Narva Bay this week, in the course of which war-era explosive devices left in the area will be relocated and destroyed and international interoperability and routines of action rehearsed.
1st Lt. Priit Kaasikmäe, commander of the Estonian Navy's divers unit, said: "3B Divex is a rotating event of divers from the three Baltic countries, which we are organizing in Narva Bay this year. The camp of the divers is located in Toila Harbor and the goal of the week-long effort is primarily the relocation World War II-era mines to a safe location and detonating them if possible."
In the course of the week, divers will descend to retrieve up to 30 pieces of munitions at depths of up to 40 meters previously identified by the Estonian Navy (Merevägi). Some of the explosive devices that cannot be detonated safely on-site will be relocated to safe locations for detonation.
Spokespeople for the Navy said the removal of explosive devices from the immediate vicinity of wrecks of ships enables to create a safer environment for subsequent oil spill and marine water pollution removal.
Munitions removed on land as well as sea
Furthermore, over the weekend, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams of the rescue center for East Estonia rendered several pieces of war-era munitions harmless in Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru counties.
Spokespeople for the rescue center for East Estonia said an artillery shell, a mortar shell and four hand grenades found in Mustanina village in the territory of the town of Narva-Jõesuu were rendered harmless on August 8 and an artillery shell found in Loobu village in Kadrina municipality was rendered harmless on August 9.
In total almost 30 naval divers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are taking part in the 3B Divex exercise. The special equipment used by mine countermeasures divers is non-magnetic and low acoustic, enabling divers to dive to depths of up to 55 meters and spend up to four hours submerged depending on the depth of the dive.
Over 1,400 explosive devices, mostly mines and other pieces of ammunition that have ended up on the sea bottom, have been discovered and rendered harmless in Estonian waters during the past 20 years.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste