Gallery: British tanks arrive in Saaremaa for military exercise

For the first time in 50 years, tanks arrived on Saaremaa to take part in a military exercise organized by the Estonian Defense League (EDF). Getting the equipment to the island proved to be a challenge for the ferry crew.

Three British Challenger 2 tanks weighing more than 100 tonnes and additional equipment were carried to Estonia's largest island by ferry Tõll, Thursday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported.

This is the heaviest load the vessel has carried, reaching its 600-tonne limit.

"There are two ways to fill [the ferry] up. One is that the hold fills up and the other is that the weight allowance fills up. Today, the permitted weight was reached," Tõll's Captain Hanno Naaber said.

Due to the equipment's weight, the ferry's hull sat deeper in the water than usual.

The islanders joked to AK that they have found a way to keep at least one of the tanks on Saaremaa after the Tõllu Rusikas exercise ends.

"We will try to trap them in a bog and stop them getting out," said Timmo Saarestik, head of the EDF's maritime division.

But the British aren't worried.

"We're quite used to muddy ground back in the UK and other places we deploy, so we are not too worried about the ground but we do have our highly trained R.E.M.E [Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers] specialists just in case anyone gets stuck in the mud, but hopefully that won't be happening," said Captain Nichol, assistant to the NATO battle group company commander.

The UK leads Estonia's Enhance Forward Presence NATO battlegroup and regularly participates in military exercises alongside the EDF.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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