Royal Navy frigate completes stint as 'bad guys' of huge Nato war game in the Baltic Sea

ROYAL Navy sailors from Portsmouth have wrapped up their time playing ‘the bad guys’ in the largest military exercise of 2020 in European waters.

Thursday, 18th June 2020, 7:59 pm
Updated Friday, 19th June 2020, 11:05 am

Frigate HMS Kent has finished her latest deployment to Nato’s annual Baltops war game in the Baltic Sea.

The two-week drill involved more than two dozen warships, a similar number of aircraft and upwards of 3,000 military personnel from across the globe.

The war rehearsal, the 49th of its kind, is designed to test Nato’s ability to react to any threat in the region.

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Those involved are tested on a range of military scenarios, from warships having to fend off an aerial onslaught, to mine clearance practise, refuelling drills and launching assaults by sea.

And it was a task that pushed Kent’s men and women to the limit, said the Type 23’s skipper, Commander Matt Sykes.

‘Baltops has certainly tested the mettle of my team and I am very pleased by the way they have risen to the challenge,’ he said.

‘This has been a great opportunity to prove how quickly the Royal Navy can integrate with Nato and regional allies, whilst also providing reassurance to our partners in the Baltic Sea region.’

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The Portsmouth-based frigate was assigned to the ‘Orange Forces’ from the fictional state of Bothnia – the enemy – in this year’s scenario, which meant her sailors had to approach Baltops with a different mind-set.

‘Playing the bad guys for a change rather than ourselves has been good,’ said above water warfare specialist, 31-year-old Able Seaman Jonathan Mills.

‘It really forced us to look at how we normally do things, then doing something sneaky instead. It has been really busy, but I have definitely learned a lot.’

Also taking part in the exercise from the Royal Navy was Faslane-based minehunter HMS Ramsey.

The ship’s 40-strong crew were put through their paces hunting out and destroying dummy mines.

Ramsey spent nine days at sea with a minehunting taskforce of seven ships – plus two drones from the German Navy.

‘It has been really interesting to see other nations conduct mine hunting operations and observe how they do it, especially the German Navy using autonomous drones during the exercise,’ said mine warfare specialist Able Seaman Harry Streeter.

‘The Royal Navy is already using – and accelerating the introduction of – new autonomous and remote systems into mine warfare, so to see how other nations employ similar technology has been great.’

Ramsey is remaining in the Baltic with a Nato minewarfare group. Kent meanwhile will continue training around the UK and north Atlantic before a period of maintenance in Portsmouth in the summer.

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