Around 3,000 personnel and more than 40 vessels from 18 nations are taking part in the annual Northern Coasts naval exercise.
Exercise Northern Coasts will take place near the Danish straits connecting the Baltic Sea to the North Sea, as well as between Kiel and Bornholm. It will run until the 19th of September.
“The Baltic Sea is of vital importance for the Alliance and is bordered by six NATO countries”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
“Northern Coasts is now in its 13th year. Unfortunately the security environment in the region has deteriorated after Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and its continuing military-build-up.”
She added that NATO had responded to Russia’s aggressive actions by increasing air and naval patrols in the region and by deploying just over 4,500 troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
According to the Alliance:
“Northern Coasts is a recurring exercise which has been taking place in the Baltic Sea since 2007. It is hosted by a different Baltic country each year. German Navy Admiral Stephan Haisch will lead the units involved in the exercise from the German Navy’s operations center in Glücksburg.
As part of the exercise scenario, a fictitious regional country raises territorial claims over islands in the Baltic Sea using its naval forces to threaten freedom of navigation. Acting on a UN-mandate, Allied and partner forces will seek to restore freedom of navigation. Training will also include maritime surveillance, naval combat, air-defence, anti-submarine warfare and mine-clearance.”
Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Italy, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States will participate with ships and aircraft.
NATO’s Standing Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) will also be taking part.