USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Baltic Sea — Maritime forces from 12 countries joined each other to participate in the largest multinational naval exercise in the Baltic Sea June 7-19.
The Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise is an annual event aimed at improving interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.
“The United States has sponsored BALTOPS for the past 37 years because of the unique opportunity it offers,” said Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Howard, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2. “It allows us to operate collectively with our regional partners and enhance maritime security in the Baltic Sea.”
During the exercise sailors will work side-by-side with other personnel from partner nations, both on land and at sea, and will become familiar with countries’ military operating procedures and practices.
“BALTOPS has traditionally been a maritime exercise with operations conducted solely at sea, but this year’s exercise has added two additional pieces,” said Navy Rear Adm. Ian Corder, deputy commander, Combined Joint Task Forces BALTOPS. “We will be conducting an offload in Latvia and an amphibious exercise in Estonia. While the maritime piece remains the primary activity of BALTOPS, these other two pillars provide diversity of operations not previously experienced in this exercise.”
The goal is to work together to improve each country’s ability to counter threats to maritime safety and security, and conduct other operations such as peacekeeping or humanitarian responses.
Nations participating in this 38th anniversary of Exercise BALTOPS include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
“We recognize the commitment of nations in providing these forces, and we are grateful for their contributions,” said Corder. “Accordingly, we have a challenging and relevant exercise planned, with portions of the training dedicated to counter-piracy and maritime interdictions operations, two areas in which many navies currently focus much of their time and energy.”
The events scheduled for range from traditional activities to emerging missions. Some of the traditional activities include mine clearance operations, anti-submarine warfare, and surface-to-air defense while the newer operations include counter piracy, small-boat attack, and other maritime security tasks.