VENTSPILS, Latvia (NNS) -- Eleven nations' naval units set sail June 5-6 from Ventspils and Liepaja, Latvia, for the 33rd annual maritime Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), co-hosted by the United States and Latvia.
Units from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Russia, Poland, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the United Kingdom and the United States began their two-week training exercise in the Baltic Sea; Bornholm, Denmark and Ustka, Poland. There will be more than 4,100 military personnel, 40 ships, two submarines and more than 28 aircraft engaged at various levels throughout the exercise.
"BALTOPS is an excellent opportunity for eleven nations to come together to promote stability, security and camaraderie in an environment conducive to mutual learning and understanding," said Rear Adm. James W. Stevenson Jr., commander, Carrier Strike Group 12, who is leading this year's event. "As players change, it is important for nations to sustain these themes in today's ever-changing environment."
Stevenson will be overseeing this year's exercise aboard his flagship, USS Anzio (CG 68). Anzio is also joined by USS Cole (DDG 67) and USS Tortuga (LSD 46). The former two are based out of Norfolk, Va., while the latter is based out of Little Creek, Va.
BALTOPS is divided into three phases. The first phase involves in-port sporting events, where nations compete in tug-o-war, track, basketball and soccer matches. The second phase is the serial phase, where maritime and land forces train in such areas as gunnery, replenishment-at-sea, radar tracking, amphibious landings and seamanship. The third and final phase of the exercise is the scenario phase, where units utilize their training and expertise to address multiple issues in a fictitious scenario.
"In today's world, there are the knowns and unknowns. BALTOPS provides a setting to allow nations to tackle a variety of situations head-on, some of which are common operating practices while others are brand new and need to be addressed," Stevenson said. "Nations will need to work with each other to successfully achieve their objectives in a clear and coherent manner. This is the essence of BALTOPS."
BALTOPS will conclude with a post-exercise conference in Kiel, Germany, June 18, to address lessons learned and what changes should be planned for the exercise in 2006.
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