Canadian military divers to help eliminate marine safety hazards in Estonia

May 15, 2015

OTTAWA – Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) clearance divers and support personnel are taking part in Operation OPEN SPIRIT 2015 starting today in Estonia alongside personnel from the Estonian Naval Flotilla (ENF) and 12 other partner nations.

Operation OPEN SPIRIT is conducted to dispose of sea mines and other munitions remaining on the seabed from the First and Second World Wars.

Quick Facts

  • Operation OPEN SPIRIT is an annual, combined and joint Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) clearance operation conducted in the spirit of Partnership for Peace and hosted on a rotational basis by one of three Baltic State NATO members: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
  • The CAF contingent consists of 14 clearance divers and support personnel based out of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic) from Canadian Forces Base Halifax in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • Operation OPEN SPIRIT 2015 is led by the ENF and is taking place in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone of Estonia. This year’s operation will be based out of Simisti Harbour on the Estonian Island of Muhu from May 15-28, 2015.
  • The countries participating in Operation OPEN SPIRIT 2015 include: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and the United States of America.
  • The aims of Operation OPEN SPIRIT are to reduce the threat of unexploded ordnance (UXO) throughout the Baltic Sea region, foster goodwill, and to support an important relationship with our security and defence partners.
  • UXO are munitions which have been fired but have failed to explode, presenting a potential safety hazard to maritime shipping and fisheries in the area.
  • The Baltic Sea region saw heavy fighting during the First and Second World Wars, which included air bombardment, naval gunfire support, mine-laying, and submarine warfare. As a result, UXO remains in some areas of the Baltic Sea.