The UK Navy will deploy a maritime task group to the Baltic Sea next month to take part in multi-national exercises aimed at strengthening European security and stability.
The Baltic Protector mission will involve sailors and marines from all nations of the UK-led high-readiness Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). JEF also comprises Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.
Around 2,000 British Armed Forces personnel will take part in the two-month-long deployment alongside more than 1,000 from allied nations.
The British contingent will mostly include Royal Navy and Royal Marines, while personnel from the British Army and Royal Air Force will also participate.
Flagship HMS Albion will spearhead the mission, which seeks to demonstrate the ability to mobilise forces at short notice, deploy them and fight side-by-side to protect Europe from threats.
Over the course of the maritime-focussed deployment, the task group will undergo maritime tactical exercises, amphibious drills, amphibious raiding practice, shore landings, and naval manoeuvres.
The task group will also include frigate HMS Kent, more than half a dozen P2000 patrol boats, six helicopters, an elite dive team to search for mines, and Royal Marines from 3 Commando Brigade.
Royal Navy Commodore James Parkin said: “With our close friends and partners from the other eight Joint Expeditionary Force nations, this UK-led maritime task group will conduct a series of demanding amphibious exercises and maritime security patrols across the Baltic Sea which will serve to improve the way we operate together and our readiness to respond to crisis.”
Launched in 2015, JEF became fully operational last year. The joint force can mobilise 10,000 troops to respond quickly to a range of tasks, including combat operations, deterrence, or humanitarian support.
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Deploying our world-class sailors and marines to the Baltic Sea, alongside our international allies, firmly underlines Britain’s leading role in Europe.”
The navy noted that the Baltic Protector mission is the first large-scale exercise of the JEF.