Renewed: 29.07.2014, 13:49

18 July 2014 17:46

Estonia to continue contributing to NATO´s mine countermeasures force

Estonia to continue contributing to NATO´s mine countermeasures force Estonia to continue contributing to NATO´s mine countermeasures force

Chief of Staff, currently acting Commander Estonian Defence Forces, Captain (Navy) Igor Schvede today said that Estonia responded quickly when NATO decided to send its Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) to the Baltic Sea earlier than planned, as part of its assurance measures in the North-Eastern Europe.

SNMCMG1, scheduled to start mine countermeasures operation in Estonian territorial waters next week, currently consists of four vessels. In addition to Estonia´s mine hunter Admiral Cowan, Germany´s staff and support ship Elbe, Lithuanian mine hunter Kursis and Danish frigate Thetis are in the fleet.

“Our mine hunters and support vessels have participated in NATO Response Force for nearly ten years now. The Alliance´s mine countermeasure capability plays a vital role in crisis situations as the mine hunters have to keep the shipping lanes open to allow Allied support to arrive in Estonia,” Schvede added.

According to Schvede it is in Estonia´s direct interest to contribute to the fleet and the country will maintain its contribution to the force as ratified last year in the Defence Development Plan 2013-2022.

“Due to the current security situation in Europe, we were prepared to contribute earlier than the pre-planned rotational period had foreseen this year. It´s crucial that we understand that as part of collective defence we stand ready to contribute to NATO´s operations when the circumstances demand so,” Captain (Navy) Schvede added.

The mine countermeasures operation lasting till July 29 in Gulf of Finland clears ordnance from the past two World Wars as well as provides NATO with better situational awareness in the Baltic Sea. SNMCMG1 is one of two NATO Response Force mine countermeasures units with ships participating in the unit on rotational basis. The operation starting next week is the first mine countermeasures operation of this scale in Estonian territorial waters this year.

Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces, 717 1900, mil[at], Juhkentali 58, EE15007, Tallinn, Estonia.

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