Over 30 NATO warships arrive in Estonia

The largest naval exercise of 2023 in the Baltic Sea, Baltops 23, started in Tallinn on 3 June, bringing over 30 NATO warships and close to 3,700 naval personnel to the Estonian capital city.

“This year’s Baltops is a historic event for us because there has never been such a large presence of NATO naval forces in Estonia before,” Commodore Jüri Saska, the commander of the Estonian Navy, said.

“Baltops 23 demonstrates the allies’ commitment to the defence of Estonia and the entire Baltic Sea region, and it proves that training in our waters is crucial for this defence.”

Allied ships are coming to Tallinn from the United States, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Spain, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Norway. The biggest vessel taking part in the exercise will be USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20), the flagship and command ship of the United States Sixth Fleet.

Some of the NATO warships in Tallinn, participating in Baltops exercise, June 2023. Photo by the Estonian defence ministry.

The first allied ships arrived in Tallinn already on 30 May. The French corvette Commandant Blaison (F793) docked at Bekker-Meeruse Port, while the British amphibious transport dock HMS Albion (L14) arrived at Tallinn Old City Harbour.

Demonstrating NATO’s commitment to the region’s security

The ships will be located at Tallinn Old City Harbour, Hundipea Harbour, Miinisadam Harbour, Bekker-Meeruse Port and Muuga Harbour.

The Estonian Navy has been planning the event in cooperation with allies and various Estonian partners for nearly three years.

The ships will depart from the ports on 4 June, and the first joint exercises in Estonian waters will take place on 5 June.

HMS Albion in Tallinn, June 2023. Photo by the Estonian defence ministry.

Launched in 1972, Baltops is an annual international exercise that demonstrates NATO’s commitment to promoting the level of peace and security in the region. The aim is to increase the flexibility of the participating countries in conducting joint land, air and naval operations in the Baltic Sea region. The exercise is organised by the United States Sixth Fleet.

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