USS NORMANDY, Gdynia, Poland (NNS) -- Maritime forces from 12 countries are participating in the 40th annual multinational naval exercise in the Baltic Sea, June 1-16.
The Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise is the largest, multinational maritime exercise taking place in the region this year and is designed to promote regional cooperation and foster multinational interoperability to train for joint combat of regional and transnational threats.
The event officially began today during the pre-sail opening ceremony at the Polish Naval Academy, where military leaders from participating countries and NATO gathered to meet and discuss desired outcomes for the event.
"BALTOPS has one common goal - to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and collaboration among regional allies," said Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, and commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO.
"As in past years, our Sailors and Marines will be working side-by-side with their colleagues from partner nations, both on land and at sea, becoming familiar with each other's military operating procedures and practices. That partnership - that collaboration - leads to increased understanding and increased interoperability."
The exercise emphasizes the role of naval forces in maintaining regional stability and improving interoperability among participating forces by providing joint training to build experience, cooperation, and teamwork.
"BALTOPS provides an invaluable opportunity for our forces to train jointly in a challenging and real-world environment to best position us to quickly and effectively respond to real-world situations," said Rear Adm. Ann C. Phillips, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2. "Through combined exercises, we are able to enhance our effectiveness by blending varied experiences and perspectives."
Nations participating in BALTOPS 2012 include Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
Scheduled exercise events range in scope to meet the challenges of today's global environment. Operations include mine clearance, anti-submarine warfare, surface-to-air defense, counterpiracy, small-boat attack and other maritime security tasks.
In total, 27 ships, approximately 30 aircraft and 1,500 Sailors and Marines are expected to participate.
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For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.