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16 historic sea mines cleared during NATO exercise in Estonian waters

Exploding a sea mine.
Exploding a sea mine. Source: ERR

Sixteen mines were "neutralized" during the scheduled historical ordnance disposal operations (HODOPS) conducted in Estonian territorial waters by NATO members.

Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) completed the nine-day (November 9-18) operation in close coordination with the Estonian Navy.

In total, the multinational Allied task group spent about 120 hours searching, identifying, and neutralizing unexploded ordnance.

Five minehunters and two minesweepers covered an area of more than 22 square nautical miles and classified 228 as mine-like objects. Sixreen of them were positively identified as historical mines and neutralized.

"The Baltic Sea was heavily mined during the World Wars, however, some areas more densely than others," Commander, SNMCMG1 Polish Navy Commander Piotr Bartosewicz said in a statement.

"Estonian waters are one of the most mined areas in the world and provide a valuable opportunity to train and to increase SNMCMG1's combat readiness." 

Minehunters from Poland, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Estonia and Lithuania took part in the exercise.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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