News

2013.08.30 14:46

Multinational mine clearance operation ended

DELFI.lt 2013.08.30 14:46

On 29 August 2013, multinational mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal operation OPEN SPIRIT 2013 which took place in the exclusive economic zone and territorial waters of the Republic of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea ended, the Ministry of National Defence has informed. 

On 29 August 2013, multinational mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal operation OPEN SPIRIT 2013 which took place in the exclusive economic zone and territorial waters of the Republic of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea ended, the Ministry of National Defence has informed.

Warships participating in the mine hunting and sweeping event have reconnoitred a territory of over 118 square kilometres and have discovered 10 nautical mines, 14 mine anchors and one missile. Three shipwrecks were also spotted and marked during the operation. OPEN SPIRIT 2013 Distinguished Visitors and Media Day took place on 28 August, the event involved such participants as representatives of the Ministry of National Defence, Lithuanian and other countries armed forces, media representatives, and other honourable guests.

“World War I and World War II contaminated the sea with mines, our task is to make inshore waters safer not only for military but also for civilian and fishing vessels,” said Commander Naval Flotilla Rear Admiral Kęstutis Macijauskas.

Commanding Officer of OPEN SPIRIT 2013 Commander Giedrius Premeneckas expressed his satisfaction with the results obtained and asserted that help was always welcome when sweeping the seafloor from naval mines.

“The Lithuanian Navy always looks for mines in its territorial waters, however, in such cases as this operation, NATO partners join us to our advantage,” Cdr Premeneckas said.

Events of the Distinguished Visitors and Media Day began at the Warship and Cruiser Pier with a commemoration of the 15th anniversary of BALTRON. A formal parade took place at the Warship and Cruiser Pier which was formed by crews of command and supply ship of the Lithuanian Navy N42 Jotvingis, mine clearance ship of the Latvian Navy M-05 Viesturs and Estonian mine clearance ship M313 Admiral Cowan.

The formation was inspected by acting Chief of Defence of Lithuania Major General Almantas Leika. The event was also attended by Commanders-in-Chief of the Baltic States and the Kingdom of Belgium, current BALTRON Commander Lieutenant Commander Egidijus Oleškevičius, foreign defence attachés, etc.

After the ceremony the guests observed a demonstration exercise in the Baltic Sea from aboard Jotvingis and Viesturs: neutralisation of an exercise naval mine, passing of the exercise ships in formation by Jotvingis and Viesturs, a rescue operation including airlifting a simulated patient by helicopter from one vessel to another, advance to contact at sea and a transfer of a parcel from one ship to another.

The mine clearance event which was organised by the Lithuanian Navy involved 12 warships and four diving teams, as well as staff officers from 10 countries: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, the US, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Germany.

A part of the ships that participated in the operation serve with the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group (SNMCMG) and the Baltic Mine Countermeasures Squadron (BALTRON).

The key aim of the multinational naval mine clearance and ordnance disposal operation OPEN SPIRIT 2013 is hunting for and disposing of naval mines and other explosive ordnance remaining in the Baltic Sea from World War I and World War II. The naval event also improved interoperability and understanding among the participating personnel, and enhanced mine clearance skills and procedures.