BALTOPS Fleet Arrives in Germany for Kiel Week
KIEL, Germany — USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) was among the 26 ships that pulled into the northern German city of Kiel June 19 after the successful completion of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009.
The visit comes at the beginning of Kiel Week, a popular festival for sailors from all over Europe.
According to the official German tourist bureau, the nine-day festivalls history goes back more than 200 years and draws sailboats that often go on to enter the Olympics. Known throughout Europe and most of the world, the festival brings approximately 2,000 sailboats and 5,000 participants each year.
During World War II, the city's buildings were mostly destroyed. Since then it has been rebuilt and has grown to be a major commercial and recreational destination. It has become the traditional ending port for BALTOPS ships, going back more than 10 years.
BALTOPS is comprised of forces from 12 countries and is the largest multinational naval exercise this year in the Baltic Sea. Annually hosted by the U.S. Navy, the exercise aims to improve maritime safety and security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.
Mount Whitney, home ported in Gaeta, Italy is the flagship for Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and routinely operates throughout the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners.
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