KLAIPEDA, Lithuania (NNS) -- Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2018 continued with the final day of the pre-sail planning conference with the 22 participating nations making final preparations before moving to the next phase of the operation.
Vice. Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, traveled to Liepaja Naval Base, Latvia, to meet with Raimonds Bergmaniss, Latvian minister of defense, and Latvian Rear Adm. Ingus Vizulis, commander of the Latvian Naval Force Flotilla.
Sailors from the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), and Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) partook in Culture Day where they listened to a Lithuanian band, observed a parade and competed in sports alongside Sailors from the participating nations.
Romanian Marines who were embarked on the Polish Lublin-class minelayer-landing ship ORP Krakow (823) crossed decked to the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) to strengthen cohesion and improve effective integration as a combine force with Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise scheduled for June 1-15, 2018. It is designed to improve training value for participants enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. The exercise will involve maritime, ground, and air forces so as to strengthen combined response capabilities necessary to ensure regional stability.
Participating nations in BALTOPS include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A total of 43 maritime units, more than 60 aircraft and a combined amphibious landing force are scheduled to participate in BALTOPS 2018.