Mine sweeping fleet heads to Ipswich

AN international mine sweeping fleet is to visit Ipswich tomorrow, it was announced today. Five ships from NATO's Standing Mine Countermeasure Group 1 (SNMCMG 1), currently under the command of of the Belgian Navy, will visit Ipswich from April 27 to April 30.

AN international mine sweeping fleet is to visit Ipswich tomorrow, it was announced today.

Five ships from NATO's Standing Mine Countermeasure Group 1 (SNMCMG 1), currently under the command of of the Belgian Navy, will visit Ipswich from April 27 to April 30.

The force consisting of the Belgian flagship, BNS Godetia, the Dutch HNLMS Makkum, British HMS Brocklesby, German FGS Bad Bevensen and Latvian, LVNS Namejs is one of NATO's four maritime high readiness forces, on task continuously, protecting interests worldwide and providing the maritime component of the NATO Response Force.

During their stay the ships (excluding BNS Godetia) are open to visitors on Saturday and Sunday between 2pm and 4pm.


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Ipswich mayor and ex-Royal Navy serviceman Henry Davies said: “We are very proud that Ipswich is hosting this visit. I shall be meeting the joint naval team and I am very much looking forward to showing them our town.”

The visit marks the beginning of an extensive fourteen week mine clearance operation in the waters of Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Latvia, Estonia and France.

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A NATO spokesman added: “The specialist skills and capabilities of Mine Countermeasures are as important today as they have been throughout history.

“Two years ago three Dutch fishermen were killed when a World War Two aircraft bomb caught in their net exploded. In the last two years alone, 547 mines have been reported by fishermen off the Dutch/Belgian coast and 365 have been destroyed by NATO and NATO navies.

“The current operation which is called Operation Beneficial Co-operation is one of five similar operations planned by NATO this year.”

What do you think of NATO? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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