With the ceremony that took place today at the Mine Harbour, in Tallinn, four vessels that had been operating as part of the Police and Border Guard Board were merged with the Navy.
“Adding four ships to the Navy ensures Estonia a comprehensive maritime security capability, both in times of peace and crisis. This increases situational awareness and responsiveness within Estonia’s maritime area, provides Estonia with improved defence capabilities, and creates the prerequisites necessary for our allies to respond to conflict in the region,” said Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur.
The Police and Border Guard Board will continue to be responsible with aircraft for the detection of marine pollution in the maritime area and transboundary water bodies and for the organisation of detection and elimination of marine pollution in transboundary water bodies. Maritime rescue shall also remain within the area of responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior; however, it will be possible to include Navy ships in resolving events, if necessary. In addition, merging the fleets will allow for the future acquisition of common platforms for the performance of all necessary tasks and to make uniform investments to ensure maritime security.
Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets emphasised that the merging and handing over of the fleets is not just a technical formality. “In view of the present situation, we must increase our ability to respond to various hybrid challenges and crisis situations at sea in the future, because for a country with a small area, Estonia has a long sea border in an area with heavy maritime traffic. As a country located on the Baltic Sea, we must control our own border while also having a responsibility towards our partner countries – we must be ready and able to react to different dangerous situations and, if necessary, make a worthy contribution together with our partners. In this context, merging the capabilities of the PBGB and the Defence Forces is more than the sum of its parts and will actually increase the maritime defence capability and monitoring capability of the country in our transboundary water bodies,” explained Minister of the Interior Läänemets.
The task of the Defence Forces is to guard and protect Estonia’s sea border, with border control remaining the task of the Police and Border Guard Board. The Defence Forces will be responsible for maritime situational awareness, until now responsibility had been shared. Even though the current status of border guard vessels will change to that of a warship in the Navy, the performance of all necessary civilian tasks will continue, as the ships will retain capabilities such as guarding the sea border, pollution control and rescue capabilities, which they also have today. With the merger, the chain of command of the fleets will also change; in the future, it will be possible to plan all activities and assign tasks in a unified way, which will significantly speed up the possibilities of using ships in different situations.
“Of course, such major reorganisations do not happen without the will to do so and the people. General Johannes Kert planted the seed in the political landscape just before he left us,” said Commodore Jüri Saska, Commander of the Navy.
Positions related to the operation of ships will move to the Navy. The Navy will also take over and begin operating all maritime surveillance radars. At the end of 2022, the Maritime Security Centre of the PBGB and the Maritime Operations Centre of the Defence Forces were moved to the same premises.
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