LNS Skalvis (M53) takes part in the international unexploded ammunition hunting and sweeping operation Open Spirit 23 as part of BALTRON. The operation is a continuous effort of the Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to clear their Baltic seafloor territory off remnant naval mines and other unexploded ordnance since World War I and II with assistance of international partners. This year it is held in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of Latvia.
Ten ships conduct the operation on behalf of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany and NATO Allied maritime demining task groups TG 441.03. The ships are supported by EOD divers from Lithuania, Latvia, Belgium, United Kingdom, United States and Estonia. The mine countermeasures decrease risks to sea navigation, fishing and other economic activities in the Baltic Sea. Open Spirit has been conducted on a rotational basis in the three Baltic states annually since 1997. Over 1.6 naval mines were laid in the contemporary territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea in 15 mine fields in the periods of World War I and World War II.
BALTRON, Baltic Naval Squadron, was established in 1998. It is currently formed by Lithuanian and Latvian warships and international staff of two countries’ representatives. Estonia withdrew its assets from BALTRON in 2015, however, it continues the cooperation with the two Baltic neighbors and the NATO Allied Mine Countermeasures Task Group TG 441.03. The Baltic Naval Squadron is a rapid response unit of the Baltic Navies whose one of the primary tasks is to conduct clearance operations to get rid of naval mines and other unexploded ammunition remaining in the Baltic Sea since WWI and WWII. The unit also serves as a platform of building readiness for NATO operations.
Info credit: Lithuanian Navy
Photo credit: BALTRON