NATO ships at Westerplatte
On Saturday, 13 March, the ships of the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group arrived on a two-day visit in Gdansk. Four minehunters: the British HMS "Walney", the Belgian BNS "Aster", the Dutch HNLMS "Middelburg", the German FGS "Passau" and ORP "Kontradmiral Xawery Czernicki".docked at the Obroncow Westerplatte Quay. The visit came about as part of the countermine exercises on the Baltic Sea scheduled for mid-March.
The exercises are carried out under the command of the Polish Navy, with the flagship ORP "X. Czernicki" renowned for its role in the "Desert Storm" operations. The stay at the Gdansk port was devoted to discussing guidelines and details of the assignment. The international countermine operation on the seaborne transportation routes also features minesweepers such as: "Sniardwy", "Mamry" and "Goplo", and the minehunter "Mewa" of the 13th Minesweeper Unit. The Group, under the command of the Polish Navy, has already carried out combat operations as part of a similar exercise routine in the southern regions of the North Sea. At that time, 14 underwater unexploded shells (11 bombs and 3 mines) were destroyed and a total of four tonnes of explosives disposed of.
With each such action, the safety of sea shipping in the water regions involved in combat operations during World War I and II is greatly improved. The key task of removing the sunken ammunition - mines, bombs and torpedoes - from the seabed becomes increasingly important due to the completion of new underwater investments and the growth of sea shipping industry.
During their visit to Gdansk, members of the crews laid flowers at the Memorial to the Defenders of the Polish Coast.