On April 3-7, LNS Kuršis (M54) and LNS Aukštaitis (P14) are training in the first manoeuvres of the Baltic Naval Squadron BALTRON in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of Latvia in the Baltic Sea this year. Mine clearance and maritime operations Exercise SQUADEX 17-1 trans Lithuanian and Latvian crews coordinated actions according to various scenarios.
LNS Kuršis (M54) of the Lithuanian Navy with crew has been assigned to BALTRON since April 1. It will be taking part in the majority of exercises until July, also in the largest exercise in the Baltic Sea this year, Baltic Operations (BALTOPS). At the exercise hazardous objects will be looked for using modern underwater mine clearance equipment.
The Lithuanian Navy is represented in BALTRON by 37 crew members of LNS Kuršis (M54), 5 of them officers, the rest of the crew – POs and seamen. The crew is under the command of Lieutenant (Navy) Donatas Gečas.
The Baltic Squadron was established on 28 August 1998. It is a rapid response military units of the Baltic countries’ navies, one of its key tasks is to detect and neutralize mines and other unexploded munitions remaining on the Baltic seafloor from World War II.
The units also serve as a training platform before assignments to NATO units. BALTRON comprises ships and international staff, both provided by Lithuania and Latvia. BALTRON Commander and staff are serving on a rotational one year basis, the ships – on a six-month basis. The BALTRON staff is authorized to conduct missions by the committee of Lithuanian and Latvian CHODs. Currently the unit is under the command of the Latvian Navy officer.
BALTRON includes more than just the Naval Squadron. It also encompasses the Communications Officers Training Centre in Estonia, Diver Training Centre and mine countermeasures simulation system and equipment service centre in Latvia, and the Deck Equipment and Weaponry Maintenance Centre in Lithuania. The unit is also important for training staff officers and ship crews in using NATO tactics and procedures, and for the integration of the three Baltic states into one community of navies.