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Finland Sending Minelayer to Somali Waters?

Finland is considering dispatching the minelayer Pohjanmaa as part of an EU operation in Somali coastal waters next year.

Miinalaiva Pohjanmaa Suomenlinnan päälaiturissa
Miinalaiva Pohjanmaa Suomenlinnan päälaiturissa Image: Puolustusvoimat

If Finland takes part, around 100 Finnish soldiers would be included in the operation. According to Defence Ministry Communications Director Jyrki Iivonen, the vessel supplied by Finland would be the minelayer Pohjanmaa.

The vessel would participate in a Nordic contingent to which Sweden and Norway have already committed. The issue was discussed at a meeting Friday between President Tarja Halonen and the cabinet committee on foreign and security policy.

Finland has never before supplied a naval vessel for an international crisis management operation.

On Friday, Defence Minister Jyri Häkämies emphasised that at this point Finland is only examining the prospects for taking part in the operation.

However, Häkämies described the operation as extremely important in assisting in the delivery of humanitarian aid. He does not consider the risk level high, although there should be preparations to face risks and they should be evaluated in advance.

At present the Pohjanmaa is in use as a training vessel. If it is assigned for use in Somali waters, the crew will be picked in the same way as personnel for other peacekeeping duties.

The overall level of Finnish participation in crisis management is to be kept at current levels. Finnish troops serving in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina are to be reduced.

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