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The warships include Lithuanian Minelayer LNS Jotvingis, Belgian Navy’s BNS Crocus, the German Navy’s FGS Datteln, the Polish Navy’s ORP Flaming, the Estonian Navy’s ENS Sakala, the Latvian Navy’s LVNS Talialdis and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Zierlkzee.
Although unusual, there have been a few visits by ships in the NATO fleet in the last few years.
All the ships are generally involved with mine detection or mine laying and the detection of enemy submarines and ships.
The ships from Eastern Europe show how times have changes, before the end of the Cold War they would have been seen as the enemy.
How long they remain in dock is not known but any visitor to the West India Dock interested in ships and boats is in for a treat, as well as the Nato Ships, there are the historic ships the Massey Shaw and Portwey plus the Thames Sailing Barge Will.
For a different view, regular contributor Eric Pemberton has sent a couple of the ships turning into the dock.
The way the ships and tugs come down the Thames and line up to go through the Blue Bridge is always interesting to watch.
West India Dock was a hive of activity as a number of ships from a number of countries arrived. As part of a larger fleet, many of the ships had been on a NATO exercise called Joint Warrior in October. It was Europe’s largest military exercise which started off the coast of Scotland and involved 22 ships and submarines, as well as the vast number of warships there was 52 fixed wing aircraft from the Fleet Air Arm and RAF and 3500 personnel taking part.
In the exercises, Lithuanian Minelayer LNS Jotvingis led the other fleet minehunters, Belgian Navy’s BNS Crocus, the German Navy’s FGS Datteln, the Polish Navy’s ORP Flaming, the Estonian Navy’s ENS Sakala, the Latvian Navy’s LVNS Talialdis and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Zierlkzee.
It was all these ships who have arrived at West India Dock today.
M1068 Datteln built at Lürssen launched 1994.
Datteln is a Type 332 Frankenthal class mine hunter which is a class of German mine hunters. The ships are built of non-magnetic steel. Hull, machinery and superstructure of this class is similar to the original Type 343 Hameln class minesweeper.
HNLMS Zierikzee (M862) is one of six Dutch Alkmaarclass minehunters, based on the Tripartite design – built as a partnership program between France, Belgium and The Netherlands. The ship has a Glass-Fibre Reinforced Polyester Hull.
BNS Crocus (M917) is a Tripartite class minehunter of the Belgian Naval Component, launched on September 3, 1986 at the Mercantile-Belyard shipyard in Rupelmonde It was the third of the Belgian Tripartite class minehunters
Polish Navy’s ORP Flaming, a Projekt 206FM-class minehunter,
The Project 206FM class originally designated Project 206F, were mine-countermeasure vessels of the Polish Navy built during the mid-1960s at the Komuny Paryskiej Shipyard in Gdynia.
EML Sakala (M314) is a Sandown-class minehunter of the Estonian Navy and belongs to the Estonian Navy Mineships Division.
The EML Sakala was built in the United Kingdom, in a Vosper Thornycroft shipyard. The vessel was launched on 27 February 1990 and she entered service a year later on 24 January 1991. She was known as the HMS Inverness but was sold to the Estonian Navy.
As it was unknown that all the ships were arriving today, it is not known how long they will be here.