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Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO concludes BALTOPS exercise

The Royal Danish Navy Absalon-class support ship HDMS Esbern Snare (L17), front, and the Swedish Royal Navy Visby-class corvette HMS Karlstad (K35) sail in formation in the Baltic Sea during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2020, June 15, 2020. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, marking the 49th year of one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kyle Ste/U.S. NAVY
The Royal Danish Navy Absalon-class support ship HDMS Esbern Snare (L17), front, and the Swedish Royal Navy Visby-class corvette HMS Karlstad (K35) sail in formation in the Baltic Sea during exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2020, June 15, 2020. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, marking the 49th year of one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Kyle Ste/U.S. NAVY

June 16 (UPI) -- Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO concluded Exercise Baltic Operations, also known as BALTOPS, Tuesday.

According to the Navy, BALTOPS is an annual maritime exercise intended to enhance interoperability and flexibility among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic region.

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"For almost half a century BALTOPS has brought allied and partner nations together at sea to develop the tactical and technical skills that enable us to conduct the full spectrum of maritime operations," said U.S. Vice Adm. Lisa Franchetti, commander, STRIKFORNATO and commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. "This solid foundation of partnership extends beyond these two weeks, throughout the year, to provide a maritime network that ensures stability and security in the Baltic Sea region, as well as across Europe and the Atlantic."

This year's live training event began on June 7, and 28 air and 28 maritime assets from 17 NATO and two partner nations participated, and lasted for two weeks.

This year marks the sixth BLATOPS led by Naval Striking and Support Forces and the first run entirely as a maritime exercise.

"The COVID pandemic has undoubtedly made the planning for this year's exercise more challenging. It has also forced us to do things differently, and in some cases better," said STRIKFORNATO deputy commander, Royal Navy Rear Adm. Guy Robinson OBE.

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Participating nations included Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

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