USS Cole to visit Sweden after exercise

BALTIC SEA — Guided missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) is scheduled to pull in to Stockholm, Sweden June 27 after recently completing the fast paced, multinational operation BALTOPS 2008 from June 9-19.

"BALTOPS was a unique chance to collaborate with a host of foreign navies and Sailors," said Navy Cdr. Cary J. Krause, Cole's commanding officer. "The crew got the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a part of the world they may never have the opportunity to visit again."

One of the main goals of BALTOPS is to foster interoperability and cooperation amongst all participating nations. Year after year, the exercise provides multiple navies, who don't normally operate with one another, a chance to work toward common objectives.

This year's BALTOPS theme of operation was "Uniting the Spirits". True to its motto, more than 13 countries' including Sweden, and 30 ships and submarines joined forces to participate in the 36th annual maritime and land exercise.

Over the 10 day operation, forces from around the Baltic Sea conducted replenishment-at-sea evolutions, flight operations and sailor exchanges. The navies also covered a variety of other training such as air defense, mine countermeasure, undersea warfare, surface warfare and maritime interdiction operations.

"These last few weeks have been a lot of fun," said Navy Cryptologic Technician 2nd Class Erika Burrell. "My shipmates and I have learned so much from the experience of working with foreign navies."

The battle group originally joined up in Gdynia, Poland for pre-sail events including a reception, sporting events and planning conferences. As the exercise neared completion, all ships came back together and pulled into Kiel, Germany for the post exercise conference.

BALTOPS 2008 wrapped up Cole's operational engagements during her six month deployment which began Jan. 17. Cole, operating in the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Fleet Areas of Responsibilities, participated in exercise ORION 2008 where Cole made the first deployment of a single U.S. ship with a foreign nation's battle group. Stockholm will be Cole's last port visit before returning to their homeport of Norfolk, Va. Cole is an Arleigh Burke class destroyer with Aegis guided missile capabilities and is part of Destroyer Squadron 22.

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