Vessels from the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) put into port in Tallinn on Saturday. The group is currently commanded by an Estonian Navy (Merevägi) officer, commander (Kaptenleitnan) Ott Laanemets.
Laanemets told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) that: "Since Estonia's period of command lasts a whole year, but we ourselves no longer have a vessel of the dimensions of a staff ship, we asked for help from our friends in Latvia, and in the second half of the year, from Germany. It has been quite common within NATO in recent years for all cooperation to be increasingly international."
Of his experiences so far, Cdr Laanemets said: "But for the fact that there is a war going on to the south [in Ukraine], there has been nothing too extraordinary. Our experience tells us that behavior has been very professional, there have been no incidents of provocation, an no escalation has happened."
SNMCMG1 has been patrolling the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and in the far north, and has also conducted a drone exercise off the coast of Portugal. Next week, the flotilla is involved in a mine countermeasure exercise in the Väinamere strait, between Saaremaa and the Estonian mainland, and in the Gulf of Riga.
Part of the naval component of NATO's rapid reaction forces was mobilized following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, though the SNMCMG1 is not tasked with responding to Russian naval maneuvers, this is carried out by friendly powers' navies from nearby states, NATO frigates and destroyers.
A German Navy (Deutsche Marine) staff vessel and minehunter, plus a minehunter from the Royal Netherlands Navy were the group's vessels in port in Tallinn.
In peacetime the SNMCMG1 numbers eight ships. Cdr Ott Laanemets has commanded the group since Jaunary after relieving Cdr Michal Dziugan of the Polish Navy (Marynarka Wojenna). The group last visited Estonia in summer.
Estonia has been contributing to the NATO Mine Countermeasures Group since 2005.
The Merevägi is organizationally a part of the Estonian Defense Forces and not a standalone service.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael