Estonian Review (BNS)
The flagship of the Estonian Navy, the Admiral Pitka, was retired on Thursday, and the symbolic title will pass on to the mine-hunter Admiral Cowan.
Navy Chief Captain Sten Sepper handed the vessel's flags and symbols over to the naval school that from now on has a classroom named after Admiral Pitka, military spokespeople said.
The vessel that was received from Denmark as a gift will be returned to Denmark.
Defence Chief Maj. Gen. Riho Terras said in his remarks at the retirement ceremony that the Admiral Pitka was the first unit of the Defence Forces to begin service under the NATO flag only a year after Estonia's accession to the alliance.
"It's hard to take leave of a ship with such a stately history, but the officers and NCOs who belonged to the crew of the Admiral Pitka - seamen who have under their belt sufficient experience of Co-operation with allies and a strong bond with the Estonian people - will continue service in the Navy," Terras said.
In Sepper's words, the retirement of the Admiral Pitka closes a phase in the development of the Navy. "Almost all the officers and NCOs currently in service have served on the Pitka, therefore it has a special meaning for all seamen," he said.
The Estonian flag was hoisted on the ship that was built in Aalborg, Denmark in 1975 on the anniversary of the Estonian Navy, 21 NOvember 2000. The 75-meter frigate was at the time the biggest vessel of the Navy.
The Admiral Pitka served more than once as command ship with the joint Baltic mine countermeasures squadron BALTRON and NATO's mine countermeasures group. The new national defence development plan adopted at the beginning of this year foresees for the Navy a 3+1 capability, that is, three mine-hunters plus one diving and support vessel.
Estonian Navy Flagship Admiral Pitka Retired