Navy launches conscripts eight-week port security training course ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

EDF personnel in an inflatable raiding craft on exercise in Tallinn Bay. The Admiral Cowan is in the background.
EDF personnel in an inflatable raiding craft on exercise in Tallinn Bay. The Admiral Cowan is in the background. Source: EDF/Merevägi

A first-of-its-kind port security course aimed at Estonian Navy (Merevägi) is due to start Monday.

The course, aimed at giving participants basic knowledge of the navy's activities as they relate to port security, lasts eight weeks.

"I hope the course will provide great knowledge and experience to enable the navy to obtain well-trained and motivated reservists, whose learning from the course will be of use for them going forward," course leader Lt Cdr Rait Luks said, according to an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) press release.

Those passing the course will be able to serve as members of a port and vessel security team, as crew members in in-port and inshore "green-water" operations as well as in the blue-water equivalents.

Training in equipment, armaments and tactics within small units aimed at protecting port areas, berthed vessels and those at sea are all on the menu, with exercises including communications, navigation, neutralizing attacks the creation and maintenance of secure areas, conducting searches and more.

Emphasis is also to be placed on physical fitness and hand-to-hand combat, the Merevägi says.

Fourteen conscripts are taking part.

While the Merevägi has been conducting security courses since 2016 and active forces have served in six overseas missions in the Mediterranean and African coasts, this is the first basic course on port security.

The course starts just one day after members of Britain's elite Special Boat Service (SBS), part of the Royal Marines and ultimately the Royal Navy, took control of a Greek-registered oil tanker suspected of having been hijacked in the English Channel.

The Merevägi operates several Sandown-Class U.K.-built minehunters, including its flagship the Admiral Cowan, as well as Danish-built Lindormen-Class minelayers and patrol and other vessels. It is organizationally a part of the EDF and is headquartered at the Miinisadam (mine harbor) in Tallinn.

Coastal defense, primarily referring to the use of modern sea mines, is also a focus of the Ministry of Defense's long-term plan.

Over 3,000 people are conscripted into the EDF – excluding the air force (Eesti Õhuvägi) per annum, with a target of 4,000 set for 2022. Conscripts typically serve 8-11-month stints, and are then generally listed as reservists. In addition to the EDF, Estonia operates the nationwide volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) which has around 15,000 active members and at least 10,000 other members.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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