British frigates HMS Lancaster and Westminster and tanker RFA Tiderace led warships from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia into the Baltic Sea.
The Ministry of Defence say here that British vessels have joined forces with regional allies for “a concerted demonstration of Britain’s commitment to the security and stability of the region”.
According to the news release linked to above:
“It is the first operation of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force – a partnership of nine northern European nations committed to working together on operations as varied as warfighting through to humanitarian assistance and defence engagement.
In this instance, the expeditionary force is focusing on maritime security in the southern Baltic Sea. The Royal Navy ships have been joined by Estonian minehunter Wambola, Latvian patrol vessel Jelgava, and from Lithuania minehunter Jotvingis and patrol ship Selis.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“Some of the UK’s closest and most steadfast Allies are found in the Baltics. This deployment is both the latest example of a long and proud history of defence cooperation and a clear demonstration of the capability of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
As the first maritime patrol of made up of exclusively JEF nations, we are ensuring our ships and people are ready to operate in challenging conditions alongside our Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian allies.”
Commander Will Blackett, Commanding Officer of HMS Lancaster:
“It is a real privilege to command the first task group of this type and I have been impressed by the capabilities on display from our partner nations. My ship’s company are continuing to deliver success on operations against the hugely challenging backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic.”
The Ministry of Defence add that the British ships “underwent a week of full-throttle individual and combined training in the North Sea” on their way to join their Baltic allies.