The 31st annual maritime exercise Baltic operations (BALTOPS) 2003 will take place afloat in the Baltic sea and ashore in Poland, Germany and Bornholm, Denmark from 05-23 June 03. Thirteen nations will participate in this year's exercise, and will include more than 3,600 personnel, 36 ships, 3 submarines, over 40 aircraft, and 6 different ground forces from Allied and Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations to include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

BALTOPS is intended to improve interoperability with allies and PfP countries by conducting a peace support operation at sea including exercises in gunnery, replenishment-at-sea, undersea warfare, radar tracking, mine countermeasures, seamanship, search and rescue, maritime interdiction operations and scenarios dealing with potential real world crises.

For the first time in the history of the exercise, BALTOPS 03 will include ground force elements that will train in interoperability exercises, to include a combined Russian, Polish, Danish and American amphibious landings in Poland and an evacuation of role-playing non-combatants by both sea and air from Bornholm, Denmark.

The emphasis of this exercise is on regional stability, understanding and cooperation among the participating forces.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral George E. Mayer, Commander, Carrier Group Eight, based in Norfolk, Virginia, will conduct the exercise from his flagship USS Vella Gulf (CG-72).

The maritime and land exercise kicks off on 09 Jun 03 in Gdynia, Poland, and ends with a combined visit to Kiel, Germany on 20 Jun 03.

For further information, please contact LT J. Wiltraut , US Navy, and/or LT(jg) B. Zajda, Polish Navy, in Gdynia starting 06 June at: +48 (58) 626 3919/3020, or LT J. Wiltraut, U.S. Navy, and/or CDR P. Kruger in Kiel beginning 19 Jun at: +49 (431) 384 3160/3161/3162/3163.

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