Baltic States’ Navy appears to be outdated

14 Sep

International military exercise “Open Spirit – 2011” was conducted in the Irben Strait of the Baltic Sea from 19 August till 3 September this year. Organizers have positively characterized the results of this exercise, denoting it as “successful”. Navy personnel from participating countries – Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Norway, France, Finland and Baltic States have managed to find and destroy 45 sea mines and two torpedoes, which were “floating” in the sea since the WWI and the WWII. Alas, not everything is as good as it seems.
International military observers and specialists who oversaw the exercise were concerned by poor equipment and backward warships used by Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian Navy. In the past few decades, Baltic States’ fleet had become archaic, which didn’t let the participants accomplish the full range of tasks assigned by the exercise planners.
Currently, approximately 30 warships operated by Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Naval Forces are so clapped-out that they pose a threat to their own crews, and Navy personnel put their own lives in jeopardy by taking the sea. The unofficial ‘leadership’ in keeping obsolete warships is preserved by Lithuania. This country holds the most abundant and best trained Armed Forces as compared to the other two states within the “Baltic triunity”. Thus, Vidar-type minelayer “Yotvingis”, which was purchased from Norway in 2006 and transformed into Lithuanian fleet’s command and control ship, was floated out as far back as in 1977. What is more shocking – Lindau-type mine-hunters (purchased from Germany) were launched in … 1958! Other Lithuanian warships have also expended themselves and, frankly speaking, should be written-off. Lithuanian analysts concur that the Fleet which cannot safeguard the security of the state is damaging the political image of the country and totally undermines the position of Lithuania as a military leader of the Baltic Sea region. Therefore, they propose a gradual minimization of Lithuania’s participation in military operations and NATO-led exercises. This proposal considers slow socio-economical dynamics of the country and, to a large extent, low level of military force development. Giving up the “military leader of the region” posture could help Lithuanian leaders concentrate their attention on inner economical and social problem-solving.

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