In late October and early November the Latvian and Polish territory and the Baltic Sea will be the theatre of the largest NATO and Alliance partner-countries exercise this year, codenamed Steadfast Jazz 2013.
The operations at sea will be carried by twelve ships representing eight NATO countries. Polish Navy will be represented by submarine ORP “Sokol”, ORP “Gen. T. Kosciuszko” frigate, SNMCMG1 command ship ORP “Czernicki” and minehunter ORP “Czajka”, accompanied by two anti-submarine helicopters Mi-14PL and one SH-2G aboard-frigate helicopter.
The flagship of the maritime component will be the Dutch command and control ship HNLMS “De Ruyter”. The component will also include an Italian destroyer ITS Duilio. For the mine countermeasures at sea the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One 1 (SNMCMG1) will be responsible. Since January this year this Group is under the command of Polish officer on board the flagship ORP “Czernicki”. The SNMCMG1 currently consists of five minehunters: BNS Narcis (Belgium), ENS Admiral Cowan (Estonia), FGS Dillingen (Germany), HNLMS Makkum (Netherlands) and HNOMS Rauma (Norway). For the duration of the Steadfast Jazz 2013 exercise the team will be joined by the Polish minehunter ORP “Czajka” and the British HMS “Ledbury”. The maneuvers will also involve the naval aviation with Polish Navy helicopters Mi-14PL and SH-2G and Portuguese patrol aircraft P-3C Orion.
The maritime component of the exercises will operate in the Baltic Sea, including the Gulf of Gdansk. The main task of the destroyers, frigates and naval aviation will be to ensure the safety of navigation and securing the strategic lines of communication especially the port approaches. These forces will protect its own sea transport against any submarine or air attacks. The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 will be appointed to check for the presence of sea mines and other dangerous objects that could undermine the proper functioning of maritime transport. The crews of all the ships will be practicing the multinational procedures like maneuvering, communications and search and rescue operations at sea.
These types of operations are designed to maintain the control over the strategic waters in terms of shipping, which is the paramount factor in any possible crisis situation at sea.
The Steadfast series of exercises are part of NATOs efforts to maintain connected and interoperable forces at a high-level of readiness. To date, 17 exercises have been held in the series, with elements hosted in 14 different countries. The goal is to make sure that NRF troops are ready to deal with any situation in any environment.
The event involves about 6,000 personnel from many Allied and partner nations. Around 3,000 headquarters personnel from Joint Force Command Brunssum and other headquarters will be involved in a command & control exercise on the Adazi Base near Riga, Latvia and at several other headquarters locations across the Alliance. In addition, multinational troops will participate in a live-fire exercise at Polands Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area. Air, land, maritime, and special forces will also participate from several locations. At the conclusion of the exercise, the headquarters staff from Joint Force Command Brunssum will be officially certified to lead NATO joint operations in 2014.
Press Release, October 23, 2013; Image: Polish Navy