First phase of Baltic Protector wraps up in Denmark

Marines from a number of European countries raided the coast of Denmark for the conclusion of first stage of the two-month Baltic Sea maneuver Baltic Protector.

Photo: Royal Navy

British Royal Marines and their Dutch counterparts waged a battle around the towns of Esbjerg and Varde in western Denmark, taking on Danish troops.

The focus of the first phase of the deployment – Danex, or Danish Exercise – was meshing the different amphibious, naval, ground and air forces together in the western Baltic and eastern North Sea so they could work as one.

Each nation’s helicopters and landing craft were tested on a different ship, while the task group fired different weapon systems and practiced defending itself from attack – practicing skills that are the building blocks of amphibious warfare.

Royal Marines of 45 Commando and 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, alongside Dutch, Danish and Norwegian allies, perfected helicopter raids, urban close quarters combat, the live firing of artillery and mortars, convoy and ambush tactics, and a dusk parachute drop.

“It’s been great working alongside the Danes, Dutch and Norwegians, during the first phase of the exercise.

“We are looking forward to working and training across the Baltic states with our other partners in the coming weeks,” said 29-year-old Captain Martin Harvey, second-in-command of around 100 men in X-Ray Company, 45 Commando.

The Baltic Protector deployment is the first test of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, a naval force with the Royal Navy at its heart, and forces from eight other nations with shores on the North and Baltic Sea.

It includes the UK’s fleet flagship HMS Albion, Type 23 frigate HMS Kent, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Argus and Lyme Bay.

Ships from the task group also met up with and trained alongside allies from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), demonstrating that the Joint Expeditionary Force can act alone – but also support other NATO or EU coalitions.

With the first stage complete, the deployment now moves into the Baltic and participation in the annual American-led Baltops, a huge exercise running the length and breadth of the Baltic under the direction of the newly-established US Second Fleet.