The Government of Estonia has decided to merge the Estonian Navy (Merevägi) vessels and civilian Police and Border Guard Board (PBGB) vessels into one fleet by 1 January 2023.

The decision was confirmed during a cabinet meeting on 25 November.

Estonian Interior Minister Kristian Jaani and Defence Minister Kalle Laanet presented the analysis results by the national fleet expert group.

After discussing on the analysis reports, the cabinet decided to continue with the aim to combine Police and Border Guard Board and the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) fleet.

Under the merger, maritime situational awareness, sea border surveillance and pollution control will be transferred to the EDF’s area of responsibility, along with the vessels.

PBGB will retain the responsibility of the maritime rescue.

According to Kalle Laanet, the decision will ensure that Estonia’s comprehensive maritime security capability is maintained in peacetime and in crises situations.

He said: “For Estonia, situational awareness at sea will improve significantly with this decision, which in turn will give us the opportunity to be present at sea more extensively and in a smarter fashion.”

The fleets merger seeks to enhance Estonia’s readiness for operative interventions during a threat and the ‘prerequisites for the allies’ to respond to conflicts within the region.

Laanet added: “Our goal must be to do more and better as we are jointly performing our national defence and civil tasks.”

According to the Estonian Defence Ministry, the transfer of the key budgetary resources required for the fleets merger will be organised within the framework of the ‘state budget strategy 2022–2025’.

The legislative revisions necessary for implementing the latest decision will be prepared by March next year.

All the amendments are planned to be implemented by 1 January 2023.