Canadian navy divers detonate Second World War German mine in Baltic Sea - InfoNews

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Canadian navy divers detonate Second World War German mine in Baltic Sea

Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Beaton from Fleet Dive Unit (Atlantic) conducts mine clearance operations with the Shark Marine Navigator sonar device in an undated handout photo during Operation Open Spirit 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-DND, Lt.(N) Joel Cormier *MANDATORY CREDIT*
May 27, 2016 - 9:26 AM

KLAIPEDA, Lithuania - After scores of chilly dives in the Baltic Sea, Canadian navy divers finally found what they were looking for off the coast of Lithuania — an unexploded marine mine dating back to the Second World War.

The discovery was made earlier this week by members of a team of eight divers from the Fleet Diving Unit in Shearwater, N.S., and three from Victoria, B.C., who took part in a multi-national exercise known as Operation Open Spirit.

The aim of the annual exercise is to provide practical training to military divers while clearing mines and other explosives dating back to the First and Second World Wars from shipping lanes and fishing areas off the Baltic States.

Lt. Joel Cormier was second in command of dive operations for the Canadian unit.

"We found our first one on Tuesday and we were able to blow it up on Wednesday," said Cormier. "The mine was a German mine that had sunk to the bottom."

Cormier said before finding the mine, his team dived daily on at least 20 mine-like contacts detected with the use of autonomous underwater vehicles.

"They look for anything that's round and has a shadow," he said. "We would dive on them and ID them . . . we basically found massive rocks and boulders."

Cormier said the lack of mines wasn't a total surprise because there wasn't as much mining activity off Lithuania during past conflicts.

During last year's exercise off Estonia, Canadian divers disposed of 11 mines.

Cormier said the exercise, which is hosted on a rotational basis by Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, is a prime training opportunity for Canadian divers.

"It is better for us to come over here and get the challenge to dive on actual live mines because we don't get that training opportunity back in Halifax," he said.

The Canadians worked alongside the host nation and military personnel from 12 other countries including the United States, Germany, Sweden, Poland and the United Kingdom.

- By Keith Doucette in Halifax

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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