Clearance Divers to join other nations in Latvia in May


April 30, 2014
The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C. M.P for Niagara Falls, Minister of National Defence, today announced members of the Canadian Armed Forces will participate in Operation OPEN SPIRIT 2014 in Latvia alongside personnel from the Latvian Naval Flotilla (LNF) and military members from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, France, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Turkey, the United States and the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1). Operation OPEN SPIRIT is an annual multinational disposal of maritime explosive remnants of war that will be based out of the Latvian Naval Base in Liepaja, located in west Latvia on the Baltic Sea between May 9 and 22, 2014. The Canadian Armed Forces will be contributing the Royal Canadian Navy clearance diving team.

Quick Facts

–          Operation OPEN SPIRIT 2014 is an annual Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) clearance operation.

–          ERW is ammunition which has been fired but has failed to explode, presenting a potential safety hazard to the area.

–          Clearing the ERWs reduces the risk to shipping routes and fisheries in the Baltic Sea.

–          The Operation is conducted in the spirit of Partnership for Peace on a rotational basis between the Baltic State NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

–          This year, the operation will be led by the Latvian Naval Flotilla and will be taking place in the Territorial Waters and Exclusive Economic Zone of Latvia.

–          Operation OPEN SPIRIT 2014 allows the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to practice conducting operations with our security and defence partners and strengthen these important relationships.

–          The operation will also help Royal Canadian Navy clearance divers develop advanced munitions disposal skills.

–          The Baltic Sea saw heavy fighting during the First and Second World War, which included air bombardment, naval gunfire support, mine-laying, and submarine warfare.

–          The Canadian team of divers is based out of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), from Canadian Forces Base Halifax, Nova Scotia.

–          The SNMCMG1’s mission is to provide continuous and far-reaching maritime mine countermeasures capability for operations in peacetime and periods of conflict. The group is engaged in search and disposal operations within NATO but also with NATO partners.


“The contribution of this Royal Canadian Navy clearance diving team to Operation OPEN SPIRIT shows Canada’s support to Partnership for Peace initiatives while increasing our ability to conduct operations with our NATO partners, including our key allies in Eastern Europe.”

The Honourable Rob Nicholson, PC, QC, MP for Niagara Falls and Minister of National Defence

“The Canadian Armed Forces have some of the most capable, highly trained, and experienced Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams in the world. We can be proud to see them working alongside our NATO partners to advance safe navigation in Baltic waters.”

Lieutenant General S.A. Beare, Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command