US 2nd Fleet (C2F) has concluded the Nato joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019.

This is the 47th iteration of the annual exercise designed to improve the safety of sea-lanes and security of the Baltic region.

C2F led this year’s exercise that started on 9 June in Kiel, Germany. BALTOPS 2019 marks the first major engagement of the newly established command in Europe.

Around 8,600 personnel from 18 nations participated in the naval exercise in a joint operations environment.

Assets that took part in the exercise included 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft and two submarines.

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BALTOPS is aimed at improving flexibility and interoperability between the countries.

Participating nations include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the US.

The exercise also involved Nato partner nations Finland and Sweden.

US 2nd Fleet commander vice-admiral Andrew Lewis said: “It is imperative that allies and partners unite to confront today’s challenges.

“Our combined efforts during BALTOPS demonstrate our commitment to regional peace and prosperity. Our presence and professionalism in the region during this exercise will prepare us for future operational commitments and evolving strategic challenges. We are stronger together.”

During BALTOPS 2019, the joint forces completed 389 serials, which is a planning term for a coordinated military exercise.

The exercise also saw the first UK-led maritime deployment of the joint expeditionary force.

In addition, BALTOPS served as the platform for the implementation of the Nato amphibious leaders expeditionary symposium (NALES) concept of multinational command and control of an amphibious taskforce-level capability for the first time.

In a joint effort, the German, Norwegian, Danish, and US Navy sailors cleared World War II-era bottom mines near the Bundeswehr Military Training Area in Todendorf, Germany.

Another highlight was the US Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Eight’s (HSC 28) first use of the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and Airborne Mine Neutralisation System-Archerfish (AMNS-AF) in the Baltic region.