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Latvijas robežsardzes kuģis patrulē Vidusjūrā

Latvian border patrol vessel helps out in Greece

One of Latvia's border patrol ships is currently on duty not in northern Europe but on Europe's southern border, reported LTV July 28.

At the invitation of the European Border and Coast Guard Frontex, the vessel named "Valpas" is helping to patrol the southern maritime borders of the European Union off Greece.

Captain Artūrs Čers has participated in many and various international missions in the Mediterranean for almost fifteen years, but the decision to involve the Latvian border guard vessel "Valpas" for the first time presented a technical and organizational challenge as a challenge for the first time in the operation is called.

"It's a big challenge to take decision to come to the Mediterranean," Čers told LTV. "The trip was exciting - nine days to Spain. A great and interesting experience."

Last autumn and until the end of spring, the ship patrolled near the Spanish border, helping to control migrant flows and rescue those in distress.

"They are at risk. Whether [they undertake the trip] knowingly or unknowingly we try to save as many as we can," says the captain.

In June, the Latvian border guards moved to the island of Samu in Greece. Turkish waters are not far away, about 20 km.

Various devices help the crew members determine at the time of a patrol whether a suspect vessel is approaching the Greek maritime border. The decision of the Latvian ship's captain to take further action is not taken alone.

The ship is under the direction of the Greek Coast Guard. "As a rule, it is a matter of finding a boat, stopping it, taking people off and sailing to the shore," says the captain.

The objective of the operation in the Mediterranean is to reduce the pressure of illegal immigration on the European external maritime borders.

Captain Cher emphasizes that it is not only a Greek problem, but a pan-European problem.

"It's not the fault of the Greeks, they guard their borders. We're here to help them," explains Cher.

The ship's crew is 15 people working on a rotational basis. Usually, you spend about one month away from home.

Valpas will remain in Greece until the end of the year.

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