German navy provides vital support to Baltic Operations Exercise 2009

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FGS ELBE, Baltic Sea — German sailors guide auxiliary repair ship FGS Elbe (A 511) from the bridge as it comes alongside German fast attack ship FGS Nerz (P 6124) during Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009, June 10. This is the 37th iteration of BALTOPS and is intended to improve interoperability with partner countries by conducting realistic training at sea with the 12 participating nations. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian T. Martinez)

FGS ELBE, Baltic Sea — An MH-60s Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 embarked aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20), lands on the flight deck of the German auxiliary repair ship FGS Elbe (A 511) during Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009, June 10. This is the 37th iteration of BALTOPS and is intended to improve interoperability with partner countries by conducting realistic training at sea with the 12 participating nations. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian T. Martinez)

FGS NERZ, Baltic Sea — German auxiliary repair ship FGS Elbe (A 511) comes alongside German fast attack ship FGS Nerz (P 6124) during Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009. This is the 37th iteration of BALTOPS and is intended to improve interoperability with partner countries by conducting realistic training at sea with the 12 participating nations. (Department of Defense photo by Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christian T. Martinez)

FGS ELBE, Baltic Sea — A German auxiliary repair ship, one of 10 German units, provides support to more than 40 allied ships participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise 2009, June 11.

FGS Elbe (A 511) supports its squadron of fast attack craft and partner nation ships with essential materials and services needed to complete their mission in the Baltic Sea.

"This is why you join the Navy, to work in an allied environment," said German Cmdr. Senior Grade Stephen Haisch, commander of Fast Attack Squadron 7. "It's important to train with other nations, because we have a lot to teach each other."

Elbe's mission is to support smaller units by providing everything from ammo and fuel to spare parts and technical assistance. Elbe is also armed with a forward supply specialist unit specifically designed for maintenance on engines and weapon systems at sea.

Although Elbe is equipped with the tools that it needs to support its ships, the crew has had a major overhaul and is in the midst of integrating all new personnel.

Elbe's mission will not only help support partner nations, but it will give the new crew a chance to participate in crucial training throughout the duration of BALTOPS. "We receive the training benefit, but we also get to show our capabilities to the other units, especially other nations' navies," said German Lt. Alexander Wiegleb, duty officer for the command task unit stationed aboard Elbe. "Altogether, it's a great honor for German units to be involved in this multinational maneuver."

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.

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