New Fleet – The Estonian Navy

The Estonian Navy (Merevägi) is a separate branch of the naval forces with six commissioned ships for less than 10,000 tonnes today. Its ships are prefixed EML (Eesti Mereväe Laev/Estonian Navy Ship). Especially since 2014, The Estonian Navy take its share of NATO’s naval joint-exercises.
The Estonian Navy was formed in 1918 after taking its independence from the Russian Empire. After the Treaty of Tartu its coastal defence network was rebuilt with millions of kroons and by 1939 these coastal batteries presented a considerable naval forces by themselves, very much its elite forces. Aside this, the navy counted two destroyers, two submarines, and a few gunboats. World War II and saw a Soviet occupation, which ended in 1991 when the country regained independence. No longer relying on its fortifications, mostly preserved today as museums, the country managed to keep a small forced for its basic maritime need of multirole patrols on its coastline.

It was not until 1993 when the Navy was re-established. No ex-Soviet ship was retained due to their age and per treaty. So it had to be re-equipped from scratch. Estonian Defence Forces were re-established on 3 September 1991 and the Navy on 1 July 1993, under Commodore Roland Leit. When interviewed by Jane’s on 9 July 1994 he described how he Soviet Navy left the Tallinn Naval Base in shambles, with all facilities sabotaged and remaining ships scuttled. First acquisitions were Griff class patrol crafts, less devastated but they were repaired in late 1993.
Rebuilding took thus most of the defence budget resources but it was modernized after a few years. When the basis was judged solid enough, the Navy acquired larger vessels and joined the Baltron initiative…

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