KARLSKRONA, Sweden — The Swedish navy's top admiral hosted officers from 12 countries at a reception before the initial phase of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) Exercise 2009 here June 5.
Rear Adm. Anders Grenstad, Royal Swedish Navy Chief of Staff and Commander, Maritime Component Command, held the reception at the Maritime Museum here, amongst the relics and artifacts of Sweden's long nautical history.
"These events are a great way for all involved to come together in a relaxed atmosphere, where we can all get to know each other," Grenstad said, "providing an easier beginning to the coming exercise."
Though the reception was an informal, relaxed affair, it served as a fun prelude before more than 40 ships meet in the Baltic Sea for the 37th year in a row.
"We have a new class of ship we are looking forward to testing, as well as crew members who have never trained in an unfamiliar area,, said Finnish Lieutenant Senior Grade Perrtu Trontti, Commanding Officer of the FNS Hanko (FNS 82), one of three Finnish units participating this year. "It gives us an opportunity to pass knowledge back and forth between friends."
There is a longstanding respect between the U.S. and Swedish Navies. That mutual respect and partnership was a conduit for the United States' use of one of the Swedish diesel submarines for two years of training in San Diego recently. The lending of the submarine, as well as many other cooperative efforts between the Swedish Navy and the U.S. earned Grenstad the United States Legion of Merit (Commander).
"The use of the HMS Gotleb was an example of the strong relationship the United States has with Sweden, built on trust," said Rear Adm. John N. Christenson, commander, Carrier Strike Group 12 and officer in tactical command of BALTOPS. "Both the U.S. and Sweden benefited greatly from the experience."
The generosity Grenstad demonstrated with the Gotleb was shown again with the hosting of this reception during the initial phase of the coming exercise.
Pre-exercise social events such as these are seen as a way for participating Sailors to forge relationships that will translate into better communications and interoperability when the ships get underway.
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.