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Mine clearing ships from 10 different countries are taking part in the operation. (photo: Lithuanian minitry of defence.)
VILNIUS -- The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense has launched one of the Baltic Sea largest mine clearing operations in years, with warships from 10 different countries taking part in the operation.
"The objective of 'Open Spirit 2010' is to reduce the threat caused to safe navigation by naval mines and other unexploded ammunition remaining on the Baltic seafloor from WWI and WWII," a ministry press release said.
The operation is scheduled to go from Aug. 27 to Sept. 8 and will take place within Lithuanian waters.
A total of 16 warships and three diving teams from ten countries -- Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Norway, France, Russia, Finland and Germany -- will be involved in the exercise, which is organised by the Lithuanian Naval Force. Lithuania will be represented by three ships: mine sweeper M52 "Sūduvis" and patrol ships P11 "Žemaitis" and P14 "Aukštaitis".
The first international mine clearance operation of such scope in Lithuania's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone was held in May 2008, when 420 sq. m of seabed was searched and dozens of explosives were found and neutralized, two shipwrecks were detected and marked.