Joint Estonian-Finnish exercise rehearses maritime hijack scenario

Joint PPA-Navy maritime counter-terrorism exercise in progress.
Joint PPA-Navy maritime counter-terrorism exercise in progress. Source: ERR

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and the Estonian Navy (Merevägi) joined Finnish border guard personnel in an exercise on the Baltic Sea just off the coast of Tallinn, one which forms part of rehearsals for various security-related scenarios which have been going on since the start of summer.

Latvian personnel have also been involved in the exercise, conducted within an EU external border guard framework.

The rescue scenarios involved included search and rescue of those in the water, and of boarding a vessel which had been hijacked.

The exercise came as part of a maritime operation involving the European border and coast guard agency Frontex, in cooperation with Estonian, Finnish and Latvian authorities, as well as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA).

The exercise lasts all summer; it started June 1 and is set to finish August 31.

Reforms earlier this year saw roles previously held by the PPA's maritime department transferred to the Estonian Navy, organizationally a part of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF).

The latest exercise saw a vessel off Naissaar island being hijacked, after which crew members ended up in the water and required rescuing.

The PPA's elite SWAT team, K-Komando, including a dog handler, was also involved in liberating the ship from the hijackers, via helicopter infiltration.

The vessel used in the rehearsal was the Estonian Navy's EML Kindral Kurvitsa.

The Kindral Kurvitsa's commander, Senior Lieutenant (Vanemleitnant), Tiia Asavi, told AK that: "You never know what situations can arise at sea, while a large part of our daily work consists of exercises and drills, to enable us to be ready for real challenges that may come."

Estonia is joined by Finland and Latvia, partnering the European organizations listed above, with the intention of boosting maritime safety and search and rescue operations capabilities.

The takeover of roles which the PPA was formerly tasked with brought changes, Marge Kohtla, the PPA's maritime division chief, added, as evidenced by the ongoing exercise.

"Certainly, such events are complex, when solving them, you have to think about what are the best and most capable resources," Kohtla told AK.

"We carry out these drills and exercises to enable us to get used to each other, and to understand how the other parties react, so that the resolution of an event goes as smoothly and of course as safely as possible, for all parties," Kohtla went on.

The AK segment covering the exercise is below.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Kaisa Potisepp.

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