2020.01.09 10:02

Latvia hands Baltic naval mission command to Lithuania

BNS 2020.01.09 10:02

The Baltic Naval Squadron's (BALTRON) command changeover took place on Wednesday at the Lithuanian Naval Force headquarters in Klaipėda.

The Baltic Squadron was established on 28 August, 1998 and comprises ships and international staff, both provided by Lithuania and Latvia. Estonia has stopped contributing national capabilities to BALTRON since 2015 but the cooperation of the three Baltic states in Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 continues.

BALTRON's main mission is to detect and neutralise mines and other unexploded munitions remaining on the Baltic seafloor from World War 2. The unit also serves as a training platform before assignments to NATO units. The mission is made up of mine countermeasures vessels, a command ship, and an international staff.

The incumbent BALTRON commander, Lieutenant Commander Armands Grebezs, representing Latvia, will be replaced by Lithuanian Commander Audrius Širvys, deputy chief of staff in charge of training at the Lithuanian Naval Force, for one year, Lithuania's Defence Ministry said.

The ceremony will be attended by the commanders of the three Baltic states' Naval Forces, including Lithuanian Flotilla Commander Arūnas Mockus, Latvian Navy Commander Captain Kaspars Zelcs and Estonian Navy Commander Captain Juri Saska.

LNS Jotvingis (N42) command and supply ship of the Lithuanian Navy was assigned to BALTRON as its command ship in February 2018 .

Following the ceremony, the commander plan to discuss further cooperation among the three countries in the area of naval forces.