The naval exercise Baltops (Baltic Operations) 2001 is underway near the Polish coast since June 4, to be completed on June 18. This year’s exercise is the largest ever held in the Baltops series. Thirteen NATO member and partner countries are taking part. This year’s Baltops is designed to practice convoying tactics, mining and demining, anti-submarine operations, defense against air attack, search and rescue missions, electronic warfare, video and radio communications. Some fifty-five ships and approximately forty planes and helicopters are involved under the overall command of U.S. Rear Admiral John Towns. For the first time since 1997, a Russian ship is participating in the exercises.
Baltops-2001 overlaps with a naval exercise to be held in Polish and German waters of the Baltic Sea in mid- and late June. Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian ships and the joint naval squadron Baltron will participate.
Several parallel developments also illustrate the Baltic states’ active role in NATO exercises. On June 6, the final planning conference was completed in Vilnius for the Amber Hope ground force exercise, to be held shortly at Lithuania’s Rukla and Pabrade bases. Lithuania’s port Klaiped will host next month a naval squadron of NATO nations for the Cooperative Ocean exercise (PAP, BNS, June 4-7; Jane’s Navy International, June 1; see the Monitor, March 16).
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