Gallery: NATO naval group arrives in Tallinn ahead of mine clear-up job

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A NATO naval sea mines countermeasures group has arrived in Tallinn, ahead of an operation taking place next week.

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) , which Estonia takes part in, is due to start with operation Open Spirit next week. The operation will further work already done on clearing up aging sea mines and any other ordnance to be found in Estonia's waters.

The group's commander, Lt. Cdr Jan Wijchers, said: "The annual Operation Open Spirit is crucial in getting rid of all the historical explosives from sea conflict on the Baltic, and to help reduce threats to fishing, shipping lanes and the environment."

Belgian naval logistical support vessel Godetia arriving at Tallinn harbor Friday. Source: EDF

While Estonia was under Soviet Occupation, vast networks of sea mines were laid of its coasts, particularly in the waters near and around Saaremaa, and off Tallinn and the north coast. Mines dating from World War Two and even earlier are also present in abundance.

Lt. Cdr Jan Wijchers added that the operation also: "Promotes co-operation between the Estonian Navy and all other nations participating."

The Estonian Navy's (Merevägi) ENS Ugandi, a mine-hunter, joined the group early on this year, initially off the coast of Belgium. Vessels from several other countries, including Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway also take part in the group, which was more recently engaged in exercises off the coast of Latvia and Estonia, last month.

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One personnel at Tallinn's Miinisadam. Source: EDF

The navy has issued the following video of the arrival.

SNMCMG1 provides sea-mine counter-warfare readiness capabilities, which can be deployed at short notice to various locations worldwide.

The navy is organizationally a part of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and is headquartered at the Mine Harbor (Miinisadam) in Tallinn. It is also boosted by a volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) component, also in Tallinn.

The also navy recently took delivery of two Saaremaa-built patrol boats.

This article was updated to include a gallery and video of the SNMCMG1's arrival in Tallinn.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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