The first major maritime training deployment of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) has started with exercises across Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea region.

The exercises are intended to strengthen European security and stability.

Known as Baltic Protector, the JEF deployment will involve a total of 3,000 military personnel and 17 vessels from nine nations.

Last week, the Royal Navy’s HMS Albion was deployed to the Baltic Sea to lead the multinational task group.

Alongside the UK, other participating nations include Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

Baltic Protector is said to the largest UK-led operational deployment of a military force in Europe for decades.

UK Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said: “From Denmark to Lithuania, from Sweden to Estonia, Baltic Protector will leave potential adversaries in no doubt of our collective resolve and ability to defend ourselves.

“This force is a key component of European security, a force of friends that complements existing structures and demonstrates that we are stronger together.”

The deployment will involve three phases. The first will be integration training in the western Baltic and eastern North Sea.

The JEF will also support existing multinational organisations next month. The task group will join the US-led Exercise Baltops, taking part off Germany and Sweden.

During the final phase of the deployment, the JEF link up with land forces in the eastern Baltic, including the UK-led battlegroup in Estonia.

“This force is a key component of European security.”

The task group’s activities during this phase will involve a series of shore landings and raids.

Launched in 2015, the JEF is an adaptable high-readiness force that can be deployed to almost anywhere.

The joint force can perform multiple operations, including combat operations, deterrence, or humanitarian support.