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May 15 2020

NATO Participates in Exercise "Open Spirit" in the Baltic Sea

IRBE STRAIGHT, Latvia: Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) and the Baltic Naval Squadron have nautralized 32 sea mines, during the two week exercise “Open Spirit 2020”, making the seas safer for all modern seafarers.

SNMCMG1 continues its Baltic Sea deployment and took part in exercise “Open Spirit 2020” between 4-14 May. The exercise focused on Naval Mine Warfare, and its main objective was to remove historical ordnances from the seabed. The exercise gathered in total ten ships from five nations.

The destruction of these mines ensures that they no longer pose a threat to modern seafarers

“The Baltic Sea is of high strategic importance for NATO and its partner nations, and therefore also a highly prioritized area of operation,” said Henning Knudsen-Hauge, Commander Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One. “Once again close cooperation between NATO and the Baltic Naval Squadron gives results. The high numbers of mines identified and countermined, even 75 years after the war, says something about the expertise and professionalism within our task group. I am proud of the numbers we report back to the Latvian Authorities.”

The exercise is carried out annually, and the Baltic countries Latvia, Lithuania and Estonian take turns hosting it. This year the exercise was led by the Latvian Navy.

SNMCMG1 acted as commander task unit, and had in total six ships from Germany, Netherlands, and Norway under their command, working side by side with the other task unit, which were three Latvian navy ships and one Estonian minehunter.

Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 were in Latvian waters during the exercise, and also joined the exercise for a day. They had recently been in Finland conducting joint training with the Finnish Navy, The Finnish Airforce and NATO Baltic Air Policing.

SNMCMG1 is currently under Norwegian command, consisting of the German Flagship FGS Donau and the mine countermeasure vessels HNOMS Otra, HNLMS Willemstad and FGS Fulda. In addition, they had FGS Datteln, FGS Weilheim and FGS Grömitz in their task unit during the exercise.

Story by Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 Public Affairs Officer

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