Former Royal Navy minehunter joins NATO’s group under Estonian flag

A former lead ship in a class of Royal Navy’s mine hunting vessels has joined NATO’s standing mine countermeasures group as an Estonian Navy vessel.

Estonian minehunter EML Admiral Cowan (M313) was formerly known as HMS Sandown and served the Royal Navy from 1989 to 2005.

Sandown and two more vessels in the class were decommissioned in 2005 and 2006 and sold to the Estonian Navy. The vessels were delivered to Estonia in 2007 after undergoing a refit in Scottland.

EML Admiral Cowan was named after the British Royal Navy admiral Sir Walter Henry Cowan who helped Estonia and Latvia fight for independence from the Russian Empire. Admiral Cowan commanded a light cruiser squadron that was sent to the Baltic in 1919 to help keep sea routes open for the two countries.

EML Admiral Cowan is now joining NATO’s SNMCMG1, a multinationally formed maritime rapid response mine counter-measures unit reporting directly to Commander MARCOM that provides NATO with a capability to provide mine counter-measures in peacetime, war or armed conflict.