Fourteen countries, 30 ships, 52 aircraft and a massive expanse of water for one of the largest naval exercises of the year – Baltops 2014 is now underway.
It started late last week in Karlskrona, Sweden, and by the time Baltops (Baltic Operations 2014) finishes on 20 June more than 100 serials will have taken place.
As a regular player in this annual exercise, the Royal Navy is this year represented by the Plymouth based frigate HMS Montrose – currently being put through her paces with a non-stop programme devised by the Baltops planning team.
US Navy Rear Admiral Richard Snyder, Baltops 2014 commander, said: “This is the 42nd year that this exercise has been held. It’s interesting to see how Baltops has developed over that time from a few countries to what it is today.
“It has become a multinational exercise with 30 warships and 14 countries – it really is quite impressive.”
He stressed that while every participating nation has its own objectives an exercise of this nature was important for maritime security and for countries to “come together and work together as partners for peace.”
The exercise is being co-ordinated by the USS Mt Whitney, a command ship, and the flagship of the US Sixth Fleet.
From there vessels from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom and the US, are set their high tempo tasks.
Captain Craig Clapperton, Commanding Officer of USS Mt Whitney, said: “Anytime you’ve got 14 nations’ warships coming together, you’ve got to plan something new. You’ve got to look at how the previous exercise ran and then build on it, make it better and make use of the full spectrum of capability on offer.
“This year Baltops is bigger than previous years, especially in terms of the number of aircraft we have taking part – we are looking at more than 50 that are playing an active role.”
Having returned from several months in the Gulf and off the coast of Syria operating as part of Op Recsyr – the removal of chemical weapons from Syria – Montrose is now back in a training environment and working as hard as ever.
The exercises do not end when the sun sets, but continue through the night to ensure all nations are receiving maximum benefit from the training.
Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, Commander James Parkin, said: “Baltops allows sailors from an assortment of navies to come together and engage in realistic and challenging maritime training. It fosters a common understanding between all of the nations taking part and strengthens our regional partnerships.
“As the Commanding Officer of HMS Montrose, it is a real privilege to show her capabilities on an international stage and demonstrate that my sailors can deliver in spades whatever the Royal Navy is called upon to do, and show how committed the United Kingdom is to our NATO and European allies.”
Baltops 2014 runs until 20 June and ends in Kiel, Germany.
Press Release, June 18, 2014; Image: