BALTIC SEA (NNS) -- The Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry concluded exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019, June 21.
BALTOPS, now in its 47th iteration, featured ships and aircraft from 18 nations, and is the largest maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region.
“BALTOPS 2019 was truly an impressive feat when you think about what we were able to accomplish,” said Cmdr. Steve Schmidt, commanding officer of Fort McHenry. “18 countries came together and displayed the diverse skills of professional mariners. I am proud to have commanded the Sailors and Marines aboard Fort McHenry during this exercise.”
Participants in BALTOPS trained in multiple areas to include amphibious operations, air warfare and surface maneuvers.
“The training aspect of an exercise such as BALTOPS is invaluable,” said Lt. Greg Bryant, training officer aboard Fort McHenry. “We were able to share knowledge with our allied and partner nations, which is only going to make us a more capable Navy going forward.”
During this year’s BALTOPS, Fort McHenry hosted more than 30 Spanish marines, assigned to the 2nd Batallon De Desembarco, Brigada De Infanteria De Marina (2nd Landing Battalion, Marine Infantry Brigade).
The Spanish marines worked closely with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) during multiple amphibious operations. Spanish amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) were launched and recovered multiple times in the well deck of Fort McHenry.
“BALTOPS allowed us the opportunity to flex Fort McHenry’s amphibious capability,” said Schmidt. “We continuously train to transport Marines to the beach. The interoperability of Fort McHenry, the 22nd MEU and our Spanish allies was on full display during BALTOPS.”
Concluding BALTOPS, participating nations met in Kiel, Germany, for a post-sail conference to give feedback and ensure BALTOPS remains a valuable exercise for allied and partner nations.