International naval exercise Baltops 16 kicks off in Baltic Sea
International naval exercise Baltops 16, which has brought 15 NATO ships to Estonian waters, kicks off in Tallinn on Friday. Approximately 4,500 military personnel, 50 vessels, 60 flying craft and one submarine will be taking part in this year’s exercise.
The conference marking the start of the 44th Baltops exercise spans Friday and Saturday, June 3-4; vessels will begin moving to the exercise location on Sunday.
By Friday, 15 NATO ships, including the USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), a Blue Ridge class command ship of the US Navy and the flagship of the United States Sixth Fleet, had arrived in the Estonian capital of Tallinn. This year marks the first time in the exercise’s nearly half a century that Baltops has taken place so far north.
The exercise will include activity at sea, in the air, and on the ground. Estonia will be contributing a mine countermeasures (MCM) command post, EML Admiral Cowan (M313), the flagship of the Estonian Navy, as well as diver and support vessel EML Tasuja (A432).
Altogether approximately 80 naval personnel from Estonia will be taking part in the exercise.
Countries taking part in Baltops 16 include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
The naval exercise will last through June 19.