The Royal Navy has shared a video of its flagship HMS Ocean taking part in NATO’s annual Baltops exercise.
The helicopter carrier participated in the exercise which took place between June 3 and June 20 in the Baltic Sea. As flagship of the exercise, Ocean found herself home to Italians, French, Germans, Spanish, Swedish and Americans, while her flight deck and hangar were filled with submarine-hunting Merlins from RNAS Culdrose, Royal Marines-carrying Merlins from Yeovilton, two RAF Chinooks from 27 Squadron, and four Army Air Corps Apaches.
Baltops is one of the largest (4,000-plus personnel from 17 nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, 60-plus aircraft flying 90 sorties a day and an 800-strong international force of marines) exercises NATO runs – and among the most comprehensive.
After a gentle(ish) start in the Gulf of Finland, the exercise moved up a gear around the Swedish island of Uto, then reached full tilt off the Pomeranian coast of Poland, concluding with an assault on the ranges at Ustka, about 70 miles west of Gdansk.
In each stage – lasting three or four days – more than 100 different manoeuvres or actions were planned, everything from formation flying and sailing to be captured on camera for the media, to Ocean’s Apaches spewing fire and fury from their cannon on Swedish ranges, fast attack craft causing havoc weaving between slow-moving minehunters which had to simultaneously fend off low-flying jets and convoys cautiously moving through minefields.
There was the impressive sight of the US Air Force’s legendary B-52 bombers dropping practice mines into the waters around the Danish island of Bornholm.
And there was the impressive sight of said mines being blown up by the minehunters of NATO’s Standing Group 1, including HMS Pembroke.