Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG-1), one of NATO’s multinational forces, has concluded the Baltic Fortress exercise 2016 in Lithuanian waters.
The exercise had seen the participation of ten nations, namely Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Denmark, and the UK, with a total 14 warships, including the flagship of SNMG-1’s F-100 frigate Álvaro de Bazán.
The exercise involved a series of maneuvres aimed at enhancing the interoperability among different navies, including drills on navigation, naval gunfire, mine countermeasures, replenishments at sea (RAS), maritime interdiction (MIO) and search-and-rescue (SAR).
Several interaction and communication exercises were also followed by a series of air defence drills, with two F-5 fighters and two Eurofighters.
The Baltic Fortress exercise has been held annually since 2008, with the host country changing every year. The venue for the exercise will be provided by the neighbouring Latvia in 2017.
The exercise is deemed to be NATO’s efforts to fortify the military strength along the Russian border, in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the start of the military conflict in eastern Ukraine, according to a report by rt.com.
The Gulf of Finland has also staged a PASSEX-type exercise, conducted with the Estonian Navy to improve mutual knowledge and implement common procedures and expertise.
Image: Air units in action during the Baltic Fortress exercise. Photo: courtesy of Armada Española.