Baltic Sea mine warfare drill Open Spirit concludes in Lithuania

The Lithuanian-led historical ordnance disposal operation Open Spirit 2019 concluded on May 16 after two weeks of maneuvers.

Photo: Belgian Navy

Open Spirit is an international maritime operation led on a rotating basis by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

The Lithuanian Navy led the operation in 2019 in coordination with the NATO Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters.

They brought together more than 15 ships from Lithuania, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom to participate in the explosive ordnance disposal operation this year.

According to the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence, more than 80,000 thousand naval mines and other explosive ordnance placed during World War I and World War II are estimated to be still under the water and pose a threat to individuals working on and in the Baltic Sea.

“Open Spirit provides a unique opportunity to train in our core warfare in a multinational and realistic environment,” said Commander of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) Commander Peter Krogh, of the Danish Navy. “We are pleased to make the Baltic Sea safer for those who use the sea for commercial reasons. For us as well as the civilian society it is a win – win.”

The NATO minehunters cleared more than 40 square nautical miles of seabed and identified and successfully neutralized more than 6 mines and 3 other unexploded ordnance on the seafloor as part of the operation.

SNMCMG1 currently consists of flagship Royal Danish Navy multi-role frigate HDMS Thetis with MCM Denmark embarked and two minehunting drones, Belgian Naval Component minehunter BNS Bellis, German Navy minehunter FGS Dillingen, Royal Norwegian Navy minehunter HNoMS Hinnøy and Royal Navy minehunter HMS Ramsey.