Estonian Navy vessel leaves port to join NATO standing group
Estonian Navy (Merevägi) minehunter the ENS Ugandi left Tallinn Monday, headed for the coast of Belgium, on NATO duties.
The Ugandi will partake in Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 activities for the next five months, the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) reported via a press release Monday.
The Ugandi's commander, Lt Cdr. Martin Aeltermann, said that. "The Ugandi minehunting crew has left behind an intensive period of preparation and training, and is ready to Join NATO's Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1."
"While the current situation both worldwide and in Europe is relatively complex due to the coronavirus, the crew is nonetheless highly motivated and ready for the challenges ahead," Lt Cdr. Aeltermann continued.
The vessel's crew numbers 42, including six conscripts and three divers.
Naval crews from Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and the U.K. make up the core of the five-month mission, together with those of Estonia and Belgium.
NATO warships take part in various exercises and operations, the EDF reports, with Standing Group 1 providing sea-mine counter-warfare readiness capabilities, which can be deployed at short notice to various locations worldwide.
The Estonian Navy has been contributing a vessel to the group for over 10 years.
The ENS Ugandi (M315) is a British-built vessel, one of the Sandown class of mine-hunters, and previously served with the Royal Navy as the HMS Bridport. She was commissioned by the Estonian Navy in 2009. She had been based at the Mine Harbor (Miinisadam) in Tallinn prior to deployment. Ugandi is the name of a historical southeastern Estonian county.
The Estonian Navy is organizationally part of the EDF, as is the air force (Õhuvägi), rather than being a separate service.
Estonia joined NATO in 2004.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte