Maritime forces from 12 nations and NATO have started the 42nd annual multinational naval exercise, Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2014, in the Baltic Sea, which aims to boost peace and maritime security in the region amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine.
The exercise is also intended to enhance coordination and cooperation among Baltic Sea countries, while improving their maritime safety and security through increased interoperability and cooperation.
BALTOPS 2014 commander rear admiral Richard Snyder said: "BALTOPS is an evolving exercise. Over the years, I have seen it grow in size and complexity to provide realistic training in a dynamic environment.
"Here, we send a signal to our nations and to the world that we can come together and operate as a team."
As part of the exercise, sailors from participating nations will be able to familiarise themselves with other countries’ military operating processes and practices, mine-clearance missions, anti-submarine warfare and surface-to-air defence, counterpiracy, small-boat operations, and other maritime safety and security missions.
In addition to 1,300 US service members, countries including the UK, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Sweden will participate.
The UK Royal Navy’s HMS Montrose and the US Navy’s amphibious command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), as well as the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79), are taking part.
BALTOPS 2014 is scheduled to last until 21 June.
Image: The US Navy’s amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20). Photo: courtesy of the US Navy, photo by Lt Cmdr Scott Moak.