Estonian Navy taking leading role in NATO Exercise Northern Coasts 2021

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The Estonian minehunter EML Sakala (M314). Source: (mil.ee)

The Estonian Navy (Merevägi) is taking part in a large-scale, 10-day exercise off the Baltic coast of southern Sweden, and will head-up a target unit involving vessels from several other countries' navies.

Cmdr. Ott Laanemets, commander of the Estonian contingent of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), said of the exercise that: "History shows that when there was war in the Baltics, the Finnish and Swedish seas were also in use."

"The Baltic Sea is like a cooking pot, and one cannot heat soup on only the one side. It is therefore important that the countries bordering the Baltic Sea work closely together on exercises such as the Northern Coasts," Cmdr. Laanemets went on.

The large-scale exercise began in the waters off southern Sweden Friday, with Laanemets heading up one of the target units.

The exercise's scenario also takes in countermeasures organized by hostile units, while land-based units are also involved as well as those on sea and in the air.

The exercise lasts till September 23 and takes place predominantly in Swedish waters.

Fourteen nations' navies are taking part; from the Merevägi, the EML Sakala (M314), a mine-hunter which was built in the U.K. as one of the Royal Navy's Sandown class of vessels. She was formally handed over to the Merevägi in 2007.

Laanemets' target unit includes vessels from the Latvian, Lithuanian, Swedish, French and Danish navies, BNS reports.

Air defense, surface defense and situational awareness exercises are also to be rehearsed.

The Northern Coasts exercise has been held annually since 2007, involving both NATO and partner countries.

The exercise was founded by the German Navy, the Deutsche Marine, and this year is being organized by the Royal Swedish Navy, the Svenska marinen.

The Merevägi is organizationally a part of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) rather than being a separate service.

The SNMCMG1 is a NATO immediate reaction force involving several member nations.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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