The announcement coincided with a “Navy Day” recently held in Tallinn and open to the public, marking the 29th anniversary of the restoration of Estonia’s independent naval forces.
Captain Major Märt Uuemaa, commander of the Navy’s flagship, the ENL Admiral Cowan, told AK: “In the coming years, the Navy will have new capabilities in terms of coastal defense capabilities in the form of anti-ship missiles, anti-ship missiles, and sea mines.
The land-based intermediate-range missiles will have a range of over 300 km, Captain Uuemaa said.
The Navy currently consists of three minehunters, originally British-built Sandown-class ships, including the Admiral Cowan, and one minelayer, along with two Estonian-built force protection ships.
“The Admiral Cowan is one of the Navy’s minesweepers whose main task is to use a sonar system to search for explosives on the seabed. She locates and defuses various explosives,” Captain Uuemaa continued.
However, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) patrol vessels will soon be incorporated into the Navy, strengthening the agency’s role in coastal patrol, and the Coast Guard Batteries mentioned above will also be operated by the Navy.
“Of course, this also means an increase in personnel, both among regular guests and among conscripts,” continued Captain Uuemaa.
“The vast majority of marines joined the fleet of their own accord,” he added.
Like the army, but unlike the air force in Estonia, the navy takes on conscripts who will later be responsible for reserve duty, as well as professional personnel; Conscripts have a leeway in choosing which part of the Estonian Armed Forces they wish to serve in.
One of those conscripts, Seaman Martin Roosileht, told AK: “In my case it was totally voluntary as I graduated from the Estonian Nautical School (Eesti Merekool), so I thought the Navy was the most suitable place for it would be service”
The Navy is organizationally a part of the Estonian Armed Forces (EDF) and not a separate service. The same applies to the Air Force (Õhuvägi).
The Volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) also has a naval detachment stationed at the Mine Port in Tallinn.
July 1, 1993 is believed to be the founding date of the restored Independence Navy, as it was on this date that a naval detachment was formed within the EDF General Staff.
The Admiral Cowan, , was a popular attraction at Navy Day last weekend and the public, despite the hot weather, was prepared to wait in long lines to look around on board.
In January 1919 the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron was sent to the Baltic Sea. Cowan’s mission was to keep open the sea routes to the new republics of Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania
The current Estonian defense doctrine provided for the acquisition of state-of-the-art sea mines and shore batteries even before the most recent Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The Estonian Navy regularly contributes to the NATO Standing Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) in the Baltic Sea and North Atlantic, with the ENL Sakala recently returning home from one such exercise.
The two armed forces protection ships Risto and Roland, built by Baltic Workboats (BWB) on Saaremaa, were laid down in 2020.
Tallinn is also frequently home to Allied warships, most recently the USS Kearsarge.
Admiral Walter Cowan (1871-1956) was a British naval officer who served in both World Wars. As Rear Admiral, Cowan commanded a squadron of light cruisers in the Baltic Sea during the Estonian War of Independence of 1918-1920. The action helped keep sea routes open to Estonia, as well as Finland, Latvia and Lithuania, which were also embroiled in their own wars of independence with the fledgling Soviet-Russian state, and as such was a crucial contributor to a successful outcome for Estonia .
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