Royal Navy frigates HMS Lancaster and Westminster, tanker RFA Tiderace and vessels from all three Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – have joined forces for a concerted demonstration of Britain’s commitment to the security and stability of the region.
It is the first operation of the U.K.-led Joint Expeditionary Force – a partnership of nine northern European nations committed to working together on operations as varied as warfighting through to humanitarian assistance and defense engagement. In this instance, the expeditionary force is focusing on maritime security in the southern Baltic Sea.
The Royal Navy ships have been joined by Estonian minehunter Wambola, Latvian patrol vessel Jelgava, and from Lithuania minehunter Jotvingis and patrol ship Selis.
The British ships underwent a week of ‘full-throttle’ individual and combined training in the North Sea on their way to join their Baltic allies. The workout has covered firefighting, medical training, damage control, ships sailing in close formation, refuelling at sea, gunnery, air defence, and intensive training with helicopters – plus adjusting to sub-zero temperatures and snowstorms as the ships pushed deeper into the Baltic.