Three Royal Navy ships are enroute to Poland to participate in the largest maritime exercise of the year – BALTOPS 15.
In a demonstration of ongoing commitment to NATO operations, Her Majesty’s Ships Iron Duke and Quorn, as well as the Fleet flagship HMS Ocean, are all participating in this year’s exercise.
Known as BALTOPS (Baltic Operations), this annual military exercise is hosted by the Commander, United States Naval Forces Europe/US 6th Fleet and aims to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through partnership working and the sharing of resources.
Seventeen NATO and partner nations are taking part in the 43rd iteration of the exercise from 5 – 20 June in the waters off Poland, Sweden and Germany.
Heading up BALTOPS 15 is Vice Admiral James Foggo III, Commander of the US 6th Fleet and Commander of Striking and Support Forces NATO. He said:
“This exercise represents an important opportunity for our forces, as allies and partners, to enhance our ability to work together and strengthen capabilities required to maintain regional security.
“This exercise will be conducted in a truly joint environment, and I look forward to working with and learning from so many different nations and services.”
Approximately 5,600 ground, maritime and air forces from participating nations will work together conducting air defence, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, and amphibious operations.
A total of 49 ships and 61 aircraft will participate including Plymouth based HMS Ocean and Portsmouth based Iron Duke and Ocean.
Captain Tim Henry, Commanding Officer of Flagship HMS Ocean, said:
“BALTOPS is a multinational exercise that brings together 17 NATO and partner nations to engage in realistic and challenging maritime training in an area of collective importance.
“Exercises of this nature help in the development of partnerships and should be seen as a demonstration of our operational flexibility as well as our resolve to ensure regional security. As HMS Ocean takes on the added responsibility of being the Royal Navy’s Flagship this will be an opportunity to work with our colleagues from Strikeforce NATO under whose Command we will operate.”
The three warships involvement BALTOPS 15 means that assets from all three services will have been exercising in the Baltic region this year under the NATO umbrella ALLIED SHIELD – a series of four exercises.
Engineering Technician (Marine Engineer) Sam Davies, 23, added: “Last month I ran out at Twickenham as part of the Royal Navy Rugby Team – this is totally different but just as exciting – my first overseas exercise and such an important one. I’m confident that my training is equal to the task though.”
Participating nations include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the UK and the United States.