Maritime phase of BALTOPS 24 begins tomorrow

More than 50 ships of various classes and types, 45 helicopters and aircraft, 9,000 soldiers are taking part in this year’s Baltops 24 exercise. NATO’s most important naval exercise in the Baltic Sea basin began on Wednesday, 5 June, in Klaipeda (Lithuania).

Representatives of all Polish Armed Forces will participate in this year’s 53rd edition of the exercise. The Polish Navy will be represented by the ships of the 3rd Flotilla of Ships and the 8th Flotilla of Coastal Defence: the missile frigate ORP Gen. K. Pułaski together with the SH-2G deck helicopter from the Naval Aviation Brigade, the tanker ORP Bałtyk, the minesweeper ORP Necko and the transport-mining ship ORP Poznań, on board of which a platoon of the Romanian marines and soldiers from the 7th Coastal Defence Brigade are embarked.

A battery combat module from the Maritime Missile Unit will also take part in the exercise. The 6th Airborne Brigade will also be carrying out its tasks on Swedish territory, for which transport planes of the Polish Air Force will create an air bridge to move people, equipment and supplies to the area of operations. A number of episodes will be carried out at the Central Air Force training ground in Ustka, where, among other things, parachute jumps and sea and air landings will take place. The scenario of the exercise provides for the conduct of activities related to a simulated conflict between fictitious states, and the exercise itself is defensive in nature.

The exercise will officially begin with a port phase of the so-called ‘Pre-Sail Conference’ in Klaipeda, which will include briefings and pre-maneuver meetings. At these meetings, the details of the exercise will be established, commanders will also receive the first, exercise introductions and tasks. The sea phase of the exercise will begin on Friday, 7 June.

After going to sea, the ships will form tactical groups. Together with naval aviation, they will conduct operations including the integration of air defence, search, tracking and anti-submarine warfare, anti-mine operations, supplying combat ships directly at sea, landing operations and rescue operations.

According to the scenario of the exercise ORP Gen. K. Pułaski and ORP Bałtyk will be a part of a task group, which will be co-created by frigates from Spain – ESPS Juan de Borbon and ESPS Blas de Lezo, Denmark – HDMS Peter Willemoes and France FS Auvergne, as well as a German supply ship FGS Rhön.

ORP Poznañ together with the Spanish helicopter carrier ESPS Juan Carlos I will form a landing group. From the deck of the transport and mine ship, among other things, landing operations will be carried out on unprepared shore with the help of floating PTS-M transporters and Zodiac type boats. Baltops will include naval landing operations to be conducted in various parts of the Baltic Sea, including the Ustka training ground.

In turn, the minesweeper ORP Necko will join the mine countermeasure team, where, together with other ships commanded by a team of Baltic states, the so-called Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON), it will search for and clear key shipping lanes of mines, thus paving the way for large combat ships.

Twenty North Atlantic Alliance countries will take part in the exercise: Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Sweden has participated in Baltops regularly, but this year will be the first time it has taken part in the exercise as a NATO member state and ally. Activities will be conducted throughout the Baltic Sea, as well as in land areas in Sweden, Poland, Germany and Lithuania.

Poland’s participation in Baltops is aimed at increasing the ability of the Armed Forces to conduct integrated operations in all domains together with allies. The main objective of the exercise is to increase interoperability between participating NATO countries. The manoeuvres place particular emphasis on the chemistry and teamwork of the soldiers thus allowing to expand the level of training and increase the capacity for interoperability. Baltops is an exercise confirming the role of the Polish Armed Forces in the international security system and creating an atmosphere for the safe development of maritime economies.

The exercise is being held under the leadership of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet (U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet), as well as NATO’s Naval Striking and Support Forces (STRIKFORNATO) based in Oeiras, Portugal. The manoeuvres will run until 22 June and will conclude in Germany.



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