HMS Montrose has started two weeks of training with the Finnish and Swedish Navies.
On the eve of Exercise Baltic Cross, the Defence Ministers of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ for military cooperation between the nine nations.
The exercise – the first test of that new cooperation say the Royal Navy in a release – focused on developing the ability of the three navies to work together in forms of war at sea, from manoeuvring ships in close formation to transferring stores, defending each other from enemy air attack, locating submarines and hunting down enemy surface ships.
“It also tested Montrose’s Wildcat helicopter working with the Finns’ sleek, fast missile boats Hanko and Pori in the challenging waters around the Swedish and Finnish coasts – peppered with islands and inlets.
As well as those two 30-knot-plus craft tearing around the Baltic, the Finns also committed their flagship FNS Hämeenmaa, a minelayer/corvette, while the Swedes fielded the futuristic-looking HSwMS Visby. The Visby is fast, stealthy and armed to the teeth – making her a formidable foe… and particularly tricky for Montrose’s operations room team to track.”
“This has been an intense and rewarding period of exercises and events, both at sea and ashore,” said Montrose’s Commanding Officer, Commander Conor O’Neill.
“Finland and Sweden have been allies of the UK for many years, but having them in the Joint Expeditionary Force makes that bond even stronger and has given real focus to improving our skills together. They are tough adversaries as well, as finding these agile stealthy craft in confined waters has been a challenge, but we have learnt a great deal from the experience. Ashore, Montrose and Ramsey were very proud to represent the RN and UK at this important milestone for the Finnish Navy.”