NATO minehunters arrive in Latvia for ordnance disposal ops

Ships from NATO’s Standing Mine Counter Measures Group One (SNMCMG1) arrived in Liepāja, Latvia, on May 3.

Led by Commander Johan-Elias Seljamaa from the Estonian Navy, the group will conduct a port visit and continue with historical ordnance disposal operation (HODOPS) in Latvian waters until May 11.

The HODOPS objective is to conduct clearance operations of explosive ordnance in order to reduce the risk posed by historical ordnance to the ecology and shipping and fishing industries. It is part of a common effort to dispose sea mines and other ammunition resulting from previous wars.

“SNMCMG1 is providing NATO with the MCM expertise and therefore upcoming HODOPS is not only important in raising group internal training levels but also making the seas safer by finding, countermining and contributing to the underwater picture,” said SNMCMG1 Commander Johan-Elias Seljamaa.

Planned activities in Liepāja will be a courtesy call with local authorities and participating in the Anniversary Day of the Declaration “On the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia.” The crew will also be hosting an Open Ship to visitors day on Thursday, May 4.

Prior to the visit to Liepāja, the group participated in HODOPS in Norwegian waters near Oslo. In cooperation with Norwegian naval vessels over 30 historical mines or bombs were found and countermined. Altogether, SNMCMG1 has visited Germany, France, United Kingdom, Norway this year and now Latvia.

SNMCMG1 consists of flagship ENS Wambola and three mine countermeasures vessels: HNoMS Hinnoey, HMS Shoreham, BNS Primula and is a part of the enhanced high readiness NATO Reaction Force which provides a crucial element to NATO’s capabilities in area access and area denial operations. When not activated by NATO, SNMCMG1 takes part in different multinational exercises and trains with NATO members and partners.

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