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NATO's annual BALTOPS naval exercise begins

The group's flagship is the Royal Norwegian Navy's HNoMS Roald Amundsen.
The group's flagship is the Royal Norwegian Navy's HNoMS Roald Amundsen. Source: (SNMG1 news release)

The alliance's Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) is currently carrying out the annual BALTOPS exercise as part of the group's deployment to the Baltic Sea. The exercise includes 40 ships from 14 allied and partner nations. The vessels left Szczecin in Poland on Sunday.

BALTOPS marks SNMG1's third large multinational exercise this year, after the group participated in exercises off the coast of Norway in February, and off the coast of Scotland in March and April.

Held once a year, BALTOPS is an annual maritime-focused military exercise in the Baltic Sea region and one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe.

“We are very excited to take part in BALTOPS 2017. The exercise offers SNMG1 valuable high-end training across the entire spectrum of naval warfare, and provides a great arena to enhance interoperability and share best practices between Allies and Key Partners,” the commander of the group, Commodore Ole Morten Sandquist of the Royal Norwegian Navy, said.

The group has spent the last few weeks training with several allies and partners in the region. “After a successful pre-sail part in Szczecin, Poland, I look forward to commencing the at-sea phase of the exercise. BALTOPS 2017 provides SNMG1 with valuable training across several areas of expertise, such as air, surface, sub-surface, mine warfare and amphibious operations, and is a visible demonstration of NATO's commitment to the region,” Sandquist said.

Sandquist's group is currently composed of its flagship, the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Roald Amundsen, and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

Sandquist is in command of one of five maritime task groups in BALTOPS. His task group is made up of the two ships of his group as well as four additional vessels, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS James E. Williams, the Danish command and support ship HDMS Absalon, the Swedish corvette HSwMS Nyköping, and the Finnish minelayer FNS Hämeenmaa.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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