BRUSSELS, April 22 (UPI) -- Five ships belonging to the Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group One left the German port of Kiel on Tuesday for deployment to the Baltic Sea, where they will provide enhanced maritime security and readiness to the region.
General Philip M. Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, commented on the deployment: "During this period of tension, we felt it appropriate to deploy SNMCMG1 to the Baltic Sea as part of a broad package of actions by NATO’s maritime, air and ground forces."
With the deployment of the Baltic Sea patrol, the general said "Our intent is not to escalate the situation, but rather to demonstrate our strong solidarity as an Alliance and increase our readiness."
The vessels will not only provide enhanced security at a time when Russia has demonstrated aggression toward Ukraine, but the ships will also be involved in clearing mines left over from World War I and World War II, the general added.
Royal Norwegian Navy Commander Eirik Otterbu is leading the group, comprised of the Dutch minehunter HNLMS Makkum, Belgian minehunter BNS Bellis, Norwegian minesweeper HNoMS Otra, Estonian minehunter ENS Admiral Cowan, and Norwegian support vessel HNoMS Valkyrien.