In Lithuanian territorial waters the international mine countermeasures operation pk. “Open Spirit 2022”. A total of 13 ships, 8 diving teams divided into two groups, searched day and night for mines and other remnants of WWI and WWII. Among them, the newest Polish mine destroyer ORP Kormoran together with the Group of Divers from the 13th minesweeper Squadron embarked on its board.
During the exercise ORP Kormoran was assigned to group II, where it cooperated with a team of anti-mine ships from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, so called Baltron. The first group consisted of vessels being a part of the NATO Standing Mine Defence Force Group 1 – SNMCMG1. Mine action was secured by an additionally embarked Miner Divers Group.
For two weeks ORP Kormoran has been searching an area of over 20 square kilometres using only autonomous techniques, i.e. AUV GAVIA and AUV HUGIN vehicles. The ship operated in an area where, according to historical sources and materials provided by the organiser after the war, there were
- a Soviet mine line consisting of about 50 mines of unknown type from 1914;
- German mine line “Wartburg 3” consisting of 368 EMC mines and 600 SPB minefield protectors, laid in 1941 by the ships Preussen, Skagerrak and Versailles. Many of these objects were laid in the past during the post-war operations to clear the eastern regions of the Baltic Sea.
In the course of the operation a Polish ship detected and classified 162 objects as mine-like, of which 18 were carriages of German anchor mines, mainly of the EMC and SPB types. For the purpose of identification of the detected objects nearly 60 missions were carried out by the submarine vehicle of the MORŚWIN type. The group consisting of ORP Kormoran, LNS Jotvingis, ENS Admiral Cowan, LNS Kursis and LVNS Talivaldis searched nearly 90 square kilometres, marked 349 objects and found 4 mines, which were neutralised.
The deck of the mine destroyer ORP Kormoran during the participation in the operation pk. “Open Spirit 2022” was visited by Commander Giedrius Premeneckas, Commander of the Lithuanian Naval Forces. Polish seafarers presented modern equipment they use to ensure the safety of navigation in maritime communication routes by searching for, detecting and destroying dangerous underwater objects which are post-war remnants.
Open Spirit is an annual operation organised alternately by Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian naval forces. It was first organised back in the late 1990s. Its main objective is to clear the sea lanes off the coast of the Baltic States of the remnants of mine action from the First and Second World Wars.
Photos: FOW 8