Marksmanship competition brings Navies together

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Baltic Sea — Crew members of amphibious command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) competed in a joint marksmanship competition with Finnish sailors June 16.

Five U.S. Navy sailors and five Finnish Navy boarding team members shot five rounds in two minute intervals to create a productive training environment during Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009.

"The competition was a lot of fun," said Electronic Technician 3rd Class Joseph J. Roverano. "I always wanted to shoot the MP5 rifle, and I am glad I received this opportunity. I hope the ship can offer more competitions like these by bringing different nations together." Finnish and U.S. Navy marksmen competed in categories including the 9 mm pistol, M16 assault rifle, MP5 machine pistol, AR95 assault rifle, and a 7.62-caliber (sniper) rifle with a winner in each category.

The Finnish team won the event with the highest score on all weapons and received a certificate and bragging rights in honor of the event. "I was surprised I had the highest score for shooting the 9 millimeter pistol," said Finnish Navy Cpl. Perttu Narvia. "I had fun shooting both U.S. weapons, but my favorite was the M16 assault rifle."

"This competition creates a good training opportunity for both navies," said U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. Malachy J. Soller, Mount Whitney's weapons officer and one of the competition's judges. "Friendly competition helps provide a learning environment that enhances skills for physical security, force protection, and weapons qualification."

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 United States Navy, the exercise aims to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.

USS Mount Whitney is currently in the underway in the Baltic Sea completing BALTOPS 2009. This is the 37th iteration of BALTOPS and is intended to improve interoperability with partner nations by conducting realistic training at sea with the 12 participating nations. Mount Whitney is the U.S. 6th Fleet's flagship. It is homeported in Gaeta, Italy and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. sailors and Military Sealift Command civilian mariners.

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