NATO ships search for mines in Estonian waters

Estonian minehunter ENS Sakala recovers a Remotely Controlled Vehicle (ROV) from the water after investigating an object on the seafloor during Historical Ordnance Disposal (HOD) operations. Photo: NATO

Ships from NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) completed four days of historical ordnance disposal (HOD) operations along with Estonian minehunter ENS Admiral Cowan in Estonian territorial waters on August 17.

The ships searched Estonian coastal areas that had not been previously examined closely for the presence of sea mines or any other explosive ordnance left over from World War I and II.

“To this point, no explosive ordnance has been identified, but it does not mean that there is no result of our work. Even if there is nothing dangerous found, the result is that now it is known that searched areas are safe for navigation and fishing. And it takes a lot of accurate work to get to this point,” said the commander of SNMCMG1, Commander (j.g.) Gvido Laudups.

He also pointed out, “The main purpose of our Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One activities is to make the sea safe for shipping in general and, in this case, for fisherman in particular, who can find explosive ordnance in their fishing nets and trawls in unsearched coastal areas.”

SNMCMG1 ships are headed to Mersrags, Latvia next for a scheduled port visit. The ship’s crew will take part in annual Mersrags County Festival during the weekend and take the opportunity to rest and recuperate before participation in annual historical naval mine disposal operation Open Spirit held in Latvian waters this year. The exercise is hosted on a rotational basis by one of the Baltic States.

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