BALTOPS kicks off as ships get underway from Kiel, Germany

The 47th annual multinational exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) started on June 9 as ships and assets from 18 nations departed Kiel, Germany.

BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region and one of the largest exercises in northern Europe enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of the re-established US 2nd Fleet, will lead the exercise on behalf of Naval Forces Europe.

“No one nation can face today’s challenges alone, we are much stronger together,” Lewis said.

“Our partner and NATO alliances must continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense efforts and adapt through improving readiness and responsiveness.”

The focus of the exercise is for ground, maritime, and air forces to work together in exercising air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, mine countermeasures, and amphibious operations, in order to strengthen the development of our joint teams across all layers of the battlespace.

The exercise will include the participation of 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, two submarines, and 8,600 personnel in a joint operational environment.

Nations participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The exercise will be closely watched by Russia, which has designated Baltic Fleet corvettes Stoikiy and Boikiy and the small missile ship Liven as its eyes and ears for the duration of the maneuver, according to a TASS report.

Photo: Photo: NATO