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Royal Navy task group joins NATO on biggest Baltic Sea exercise of the year

Royal Navy ships and Royal Marines have joined NATO allies as the largest exercise in the Baltic swings into action.

The Littoral Response Group (North) leads the UK involvement in Baltops – now in its milestone 50th year – the biggest combined exercise in the region.

This year, 18 militaries from 16 NATO allies and two partner countries join forces in a mighty demonstration of naval power. 

More than 40 maritime units, 60 aircraft and 4,000 personnel are involved, with HMS Albion, RFA Mounts Bay and Royal Marines of 45 Commando leading the way at the front of the task group’s amphibious warfare spearhead. 

For the first time, the exercise will incorporate cutting-edge defensive cyber warfare tactics to counter threats of the modern era.

Captain Simon Kelly, Commanding Officer of HMS Albion and commander of the Littoral Response Group (North) deployment, said: “The Royal Navy is delighted to participate in the 50th Anniversary of Exercise Baltops. This large exercise in the Baltic Sea demonstrates the breadth and strength of our NATO allies and partners.  

“The exercise scenario is simulated, but the training benefit and lessons are very real, contributing to our resilience and strength as an alliance.”

Over the next 11 days, ships will be involved in live training in air defence, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious landings, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasures operations. 

Royal Marines of 45 Commando will raid from the sea, landing ashore covertly to carry out surveys and reconnaissance missions to inform decisions made by headquarters aboard HMS Albion, as sailors and marines on the assault ship plot the landing of larger forces on Baltic beaches. 

Lieutenant Colonel Innes Catton, Commander Land Forces and Commanding Officer of 45 Commando, said: “Baltops is a great opportunity for 45 Commando to refine its model of raiding from the sea, utilising the combined assets of not only the Royal Navy but also our multinational partners. 

“It will be great to rehearse how a Littoral Response Group can flex from ostensibly training with partners to more offensive operations on the cusp of conflict.”

The exercise concludes with a tactical workout. Without any specific training scenario, it will allow commanders to freely use the weaponry and kit at their disposal, testing their mettle and ability to work together.

Baltops has been running since 1972 and brings together militaries to improve their ability to work together and understanding of how to effectively operate in the region.

The participating nations are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

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