There’s a lot of activity in the Baltic Sea this week. Yesterday saw the start of Northern Coasts (NOCO 2019). Over 40 surface ships, submarines, related aircraft, and some 3,000 troops are involved from 18 nations including Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, France, Great Britain, Italy, Canada, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
The exercise which began on Monday in Copenhagen and hosted this year by Denmark, takes place over the next 3 weeks (Sept 19) in the straits connecting the Baltic to the North Sea, as well as between Kiel and Bornholm.
The exercise presumes a fictional regional country has claimed islands in the Baltic as it’s territory and using its naval forces to threaten freedom of navigation. Backed by a U.N. mandate, the Allied force will seek to restore freedom of navigation.
The exercise involves mine clearance, naval combat, maritime surveillance, air defence, and anti-submarine warfare.
Northern Coasts 2018- YouTube (Finnish Defence Forces)
As an interesting prelude, in August, a large Russian naval exercise was held in the Norwegian Sea involving some 30 surface ships, submarines and supply ships. Norway’s Defence Chief was quoted in the Barents Observer saying the objective was to show Russia could block NATO access to the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Norwegian Sea.
Haakon Bruun-Hansen said it was, “an exercise where Russia seeks to protect its territory and its interests by deploying highly capable ships, submarines and aircraft with the purpose of preventing NATO of operating in the area”.
The exercise Northern Coasts has been an annual event since 2007