The coronavirus pandemic is altering but not stopping major maritime exercises: the 49th Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise, which involves the U.S. Navy and 18 allied and partner nations, is getting set to kick off and run from June 7-16 in the Baltic Sea.
The exercise, which first took place in 1972, will focus on air defense, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction, and mine countermeasures operations, the Navy said in a statement.
“The exercise enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region,” the statement reads.
BALTOPS 2020 will feature 19 nations: Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S.
It will involve a total of 29 maritime units, 29 aircraft, and 3,000 personnel.
The Navy has postponed or altered numerous exercises due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and BALTOPS will be no exception.
“To ensure the safety and health of participating military personnel, BALTOPS 2020 will take place exclusively at sea,” the statement notes. “This precaution allows units to enhance multinational operational cooperation, while ensuring that crews remain healthy, and ready to provide continuous regional security.”
MAIN PHOTO: BALTIC SEA (June 20, 2019) Members of the Baltic Operations 2019 Mine Warfare Task Force 162.60.30 MCM Denmark return to the Royal Danish Navy ocean patrol vessel HDMS Thetis (F357) after detonating a submerged Mark 124 World War II-era, air-laid mine as it detonates in the Baltic Sea during exercise BALTOPS 2019. BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational, maritime-focused military exercise 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. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Abrey Liggins/Released)