Finnish paper: Two German NATO minehunters patrolling Gulf of Finland

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Two German minehunter vessels are patrolling the Gulf of Finland, between Helsinki and Tallinn, on behalf of NATO, Finnish evening paper Iltalehti reports on its website.

The two ships are both Frankenthal-class minehunters commissioned in the 1990s, and are at sea off the Finnish coast close to the Porkkalanniemi headland, Iltalehti reports (link in Finnish).

Mine-clearing would be key in mitigating military operations aimed at, for instance, the Åland/Ahvenanmaa islands, the Hanko peninsula, or the Estonian coast, Iltalehti reports.

While the Bundeswehr has not provided details on the vessels, Iltalehti says that the FGS Fulda was off the coast of Porkkalanniemi from 4 p.m. on Sunday, having left port from Kiel, Germany last Thursday, while the other ship, the FGS Datteln, is also in the vicinity.

The vessels can be tracked in real time on the Maritime Traffic website, Iltalehti reports.

The Fulda, M1058, put in close to Tallinn harbor later on on Monday morning (see gallery).

Finland, Estonia and NATO have a joint plan in place for the defense of both shores of the 130-km (80-mile)-wide Gulf of Finland during any conflict or crisis scenario, Iltalehti reports.

The Type 332 Frankenthal-class minehunter  vessels number a dozen in active service, and are constructed of non-magnetic steel.

The original Iltalehti piece (in Finnish) is here.

A Lockheed P-3 Orion  anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft also conducted flights over the Gulf of Finland, Germany's delegation to NATO tweeted on Monday afternoon.

Later on Monday, Lt. Cdr Marcus Fiene of the German Navy, commander of the Datteln, told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that his ship and the Fulda were in Tallinn for training.

He said: "The two ships are on a 16-day training mission in order to enhance the capabilities of the crews, and we are also here in the region to conduct common exercises with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and our partner Finland."

Right now NATO and Germany are enhancing the presence in the region, to show the cohesion to NATO and partners," Lt. Cdr Fiene added.

This article was updated to include the gallery of the FGS Fulda off the coast of Tallinn, and comments given to AK.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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