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A port bow view of the East German Koni class frigate Berlin underway near NATO ships participating in NATO Exercise BALTOPS '85, on 1 October 1985

BALTOPS (Baltic Operations)[1] is an annual military exercise, held and sponsored by the Commander, United States Naval Forces Europe, since 1971, in the Baltic Sea and the regions surrounding it.

The purpose of BALTOPS is to train[2] gunnery, replenishment at sea, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), radar tracking & interception, mine countermeasures, seamanship, search and rescue, maritime interdiction operations and scenarios dealing with potential real world crises and maritime security.

BALTOPS in the 1980s and 1990sEdit

In 1985, Commander, Destroyer Squadron 14, was tasked with exercising freedom of navigation in the Baltic and U.S. support for Northern European NATO countries. The mission of the first BALTOPS was to 'show-the-flag' to maintain the U.S. right to sail in international waters even those in the Soviet Union's backyard. BALTOPS '85 added the objective of increasing the U.S. Navy's tactical proficiency in a strategically vital and challenging sea and air environment. To do this, Commander Destroyer Squadron 14 was assigned a Surface Action Group of six ships: USS Ticonderoga (CG-47), USS Iowa (BB-61), USS Aylwin (FF-1081), USS Halyburton (FFG-40), USS Pharris (FF-1094), and USS Merrimack (AO-179).

In late June 1990, Rear Admiral Thomas D. Paulson, Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two, led USS Harry E. Yarnell (CG-17) and USS Kauffman (FFG-59) to visit Poland in conjunction with BALTOPS '90. Their port call at Gdynia represented the first visit by United States Navy vessels to Poland since 1927.[3]

Since 1993 it has been a major contributor to the NATO programme Partnership for Peace, which aims to strengthen and create trust amongst former Soviet Union states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) its former satellites (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) and NATO. All these states have since joined NATO.

A Grisha class corvette from the Lithuanian navy during BALTOPS'93 (no. 22). For the first time eastern bloc countries like the Baltics, Poland and Russia were invited to participate in the non-military phases of the exercise

Common participants are (but not limited to): Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America (commanding country)

The 26th annual maritime exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) '98 in the Western Baltic Sea took place from June 8–June 19, 1998. During the exercise, the commander, Carrier Group Eight, commanded the exercise from USS Vella Gulf.

BALTOPS 2008 (36th)Edit

Ships from various navies participating in Baltic Operations 2008 maneuver into formation (June 11, 2008)

BALTOPS 2008 took place between 8 June to 18 June 2008. Its objective was to promote mutual understanding, confidence, cooperation, and interoperability among the forces and personnel of the participating nations, as well as support national unit and staff training through a series of exercises. BALTOPS 2008 included surface warships, submarines, aircraft, and ground forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[4][5]

Rear Admiral Daniel P. Holloway supervised BALTOPS 2008, and the guided-missile cruiser Gettysburg served as his flagship during this exercise. Gettysburg was accompanied by the guided-missile destroyer Cole and the fleet oiler Patuxent as part of the U.S. Navy's Task Group 369.4.[4][5][6] Following BALTOPS 2008, the Cole paid a port visit to Stockholm, Sweden, on 27 June 2008, and Gettysburg paid a post-exercise port visit to Kiel, Germany.[5][7] Gettysburg returned to Naval Station Mayport, Florida, on 14 July 2008, completing this two-month-long 2008 surge deployment for Carrier Strike Group Twelve.[5]

BALTOPS 2009 (37th)Edit

On 16 June 2009, USNI bloggers took part in a DOD Bloggers Roundtable with Rear Admiral John Christenson, USN, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 12, the Enterprise carrier strike group. The topic of the call was BALTOPS 2009. According to DODLive, “BALTOPS 09 is a joint operation that allows personnel from partner nations to prepare for disaster relief efforts, humanitarian assistance, and peacekeeping efforts.” Moreover, according to DODLive, “this is the 37th anniversary of Exercise BALTOPS and includes Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.”

BALTOPS 2011 (39th)Edit

BALTOPS 2011 occurs from 3–17 June 2011 among NATO and Partnership for Peace participants. Led by the United States, BALTOPS is a USEUCOM directed, COMUSNAVEUR sponsored, and United States Sixth Fleet executed exercise. The primary planning and execution commander is Commander Carrier Strike Group Eight. The mission of BALTOPS 2011 was interoperability among forces and personnel of participating national unit and staff training objectives through a series of robust training exercises.

BALTOPS 2011 participating countries include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.


  1. ^ " Baltic Operations". Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  2. ^ "Carrier Strike Group 12 Prepares for BALTOPS 2008". Retrieved 2008-09-28.
  3. ^ "USS Kauffman (FFG 59) and USS Harry E. Yarnell (CG 17) Polish Port Visit". Navsource Online: History Page. 29 December 2006. Retrieved 2012-10-12.
  4. ^ a b "Carrier Strike Group 12 Prepares for BALTOPS 2008". NNS080602-20. Carrier Strike Group 12 Public Affairs. June 2, 2008. Retrieved 2012-06-06.
  5. ^ a b c d Lt. j.g. Dennis Panos, USN. "USS Gettysburg Completes BALTOPS" (PDF). The Mirror. Naval Station Mayport. Retrieved 2009-04-20.
  6. ^ "USNS Patuxent praised as BALTOP 2008 ends". Military Sealift Fleet Support Command. June 8, 2008. Retrieved 2012-06-02.
  7. ^ Lt. (j.g.) Amanda Canedo, USN (June 30, 2008). "USS Cole to visit Sweden after exercise". USS Cole Public Affairs. U.S. European Command. Archived from the original on September 26, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-02.