Yesterday the ships of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) joined in OPEN SPIRIT 2015, an annual Historical Ordnance Disposal operation led this year by the Estonian Navy.
OPEN SPIRIT is a multinational Partnership for Peace naval mine clearance and ordnance disposal operation, which will continue through May 29.
The ships of SNMCMG1, along with other mine-hunting capable ships from participating nations will hunt for mines, torpedoes and bombs laid in the Baltic during the First and the Second World Wars.
The aim of the operation is to clear the sea lines of communication, international shipping routes and fishing areas from the threat posed by the explosives that are lying dormant at the bottom of the sea.
Participants this year hail from 15 countries, with 19 ships and 7 diving teams, for a total of nearly 700 Sailors.
During the operation, ships will work to detect historic ordnance in the Bay of Tallinn, the Irbe Strait and the coast of Muhu and Saaremaa, and to document its location or defuse it as the circumstances allow.
OPEN SPIRIT 2015 features participants from Belgium, Estonia, the Netherlands, Canada, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, France, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Denmark, the United States and the United Kingdom.
SNMCMG1 currently consists of flagship FGS DONAU (Germany), BNS LOBELIA (Belgium), FGS AUERBACH (Germany), HMS QUORN (UK), ORP MEWA (Poland), HNLMS WILLEMSTAD (Netherlands), HNOMS RAUMA (Norway), FS ERIDAN (France), and LNS SKALVIS (Lithuania).
OPEN SPIRIT is organized by the navies of the Baltic States and takes place once a year on a rotating basis in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania. Estonia last hosted OPEN SPIRIT in 2012.