Royal Navy divers help clear Baltic Sea of unexploded ordnance during Exercise Open Spirit
Royal Navy divers are supporting Nato security efforts to recover unexploded mines and torpedoes in the Baltic Sea during Exercise Open Spirit.
Specialists from the UK are taking part in a multinational explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) exercise hosted by Latvia, operating closely alongside experts from Estonia, Lithuania, Germany, Belgium, Canada, and the US.
The objective of the exercise is to make shipping lanes in the Baltic Sea safer.
Exercise Open Spirit has taken place since 1997 and rotates between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Chief Petty Officer James Roberts said: "The aim is to continue our close working relationships and to make the sea lanes safer by identifying and disposing of historic maritime explosive ordnance, much of which is a legacy of WWII.
"All nations are working together, contributing to the planning, identification, confirmation and recovery of explosive ordnance, building operational capability and increasing the ability to operate as a coherent task group."
On the second day of the exercise, Delta Squadron of the Diving & Threat Exploitation Group recovered two ground mines and a torpedo.
Some of the devices remaining on the seabed include explosives from both the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War.
The Baltic was the scene of heavy fighting during these conflicts and was heavily mined, while air bombardments, naval gunfire and submarine warfare only added to the ordnance lying on the seabed.
CPO Roberts added: "From the most junior seamen to senior operators, working closely with our partners and allies demonstrates the resolve and commitment of the UK and all Nato to regional Baltic security and the principles of collective defence.
"It's fantastic to be working with our friends in the Baltic again, this constant drum beat of exercise allows real relationships to grow, bound by our shared values, stronger together and ready to defeat aggression."
The operation aims to not only 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.