NATO Op Open Spirit minesweeping the Baltic Sea

British forces have taken part into Operation Open Spirit, an annual multinational operation to clear Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in the Baltic Sea.

This year's operation, led by the Latvian Naval Force, cleared a total of 20 square kilometres of the Baltic. 

Expert teams from Latvia, Estonia, Norway and Canada and the UK identified 38 objects and destroyed two mines.

Commander JG Armands Ronis said: 

"There are thousands of mines laid during those periods. Your job is to find the mine, to identify it, to put a charge and to blow it up."

The Baltic Sea was heavily bombarded during the First and Second World Wars, both via air and submarine warfare. As a result, unexploded ordnance remains in some areas.

The operation aims not only to reduce the risk of mines for civilians, but also to foster relationships with defence partners in the region and exercise naval mine countermeasure operations in a challenging environment.

Open Spirit is part of the Partnership for Peace (PfP), a bilateral cooperation between individual Euro-Atlantic partner countries - such as Canada - and NATO.

The program was established in 1994 to enable its 21 partners to build an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their own priorities.

Cover picture courtesy of NATO TV.