Oldest and newest Sandown-class minehunters meet up in Estonia

Taking her place in the arrowhead formation created by two NATO task groups, HMS Shoreham crosses the crystal-clear Baltic bound for one of Europe's most historic capital cities.

Both Standing Groups which patrol the waters of northern Europe from the Channel to the Baltic linked up off the coast of Tallinn for a very rare encounter.

Both Groups - each numbered 1, but one is largely comprised of frigates/destroyers, the other to mine warfare - are committed to keeping the sea lanes open, strengthening relations with NATO nations and improving the ability of different navies to work with each other.

Shoreham has recently arrived to take her place with Minecountermeasures Group 1, joining the Estonian-led force in Liepaja in Latvia to take part in Historical Ordnance Disposal Operations - HODOPS or discarded/unexploded weapons and bombs from the 20th Century's conflicts.

Moving into the Gulf of Finland allowed Britain's newest Sandown-class minehunter met up with the class' progenitor.

After 16 years' service HMS Sandown was sold to the Estonians back in 2006 who renamed her Admiral Cowan in honour of the Brit who led naval forces supporting Estonia's eventually-successful fight for independence from Russia at the end of World War 1.

Together the youngest and oldest Sandowns carried out mine warfare training in the Bay of Tallinn before the rendezvous with the larger warships of NATO Standing Naval Group 1 for some combined tactical manoeuvres, culminating in a group photo making use of a helicopter launched from the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

Afterwards the two groups sailed into the Estonian capital where sailors took part in conferences with local military leaders, receptions and finally got the chance to appreciate one of the continent's most intact and authentic mediaeval old towns.

Shoreham will continue her deployment in the Baltic with SNMCMG1 until the summer when she return to operate in UK waters.