USS MOUNT WHITNEY, Baltic Sea — More than 30 ships from 12 nations completed the last tactical exercise of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise June 18.
The operation trained each nations navies in strategic planning, tactical maneuverability and weapons familiarity through maritime cooperation in the unscripted war-at-sea exercise.
"The ships are split into two teams, blue force against red force. The German and Finnish FPBs [fast patrol boat] are the opposing force against all other ships, and the FPBs really have the advantage in this small body of water," said Capt. George Lang, Carrier Strike Group 12 operations officer.
Blue force's goal was to move through an imaginary strait to Kiel, Germany in order to complete their objective. The FPBs were able to strategically subdue them in the first 24 hours begun June 17, under the cover of merchant lanes. Each team reset positions for the following day.
"These guys donnt mess around. They know exactly how and when to hit us," said Lang. "The FBPs are extremely good at what they do, and this exercise proves it." The next day, blue force again moved into the fictitious straight where they received heavy fire from German Navy air power and FPBs. They were able to deter the fire and move ahead with mine countermeasure (MCM) ships leading the way.
As the blue force approached its destination, the threat of mines was more prevalent, giving the MCM ships a chance to play an important role in the execution of the tactical exercise, Lang said.
"It's not really about who wins and who loses," said Lt. Sam Bethune, Carrier Strike Group 12 operations planning officer. "It's about the training we receive by conducting these exercises properly."
The entire operation lasted approximately 56 hours followed by the post exercise brief in Kiel.
BALTOPS is comprised of forces from 12 countries and is the largest multinational naval exercise this year in the Baltic Sea. Annually hosted by the U.S. Navy, the exercise aims to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.