Finland to host large naval exercise in September
Ships from USA, France, and Germany will take part in drill in Finland’s southwestern archipelago
In September this year Finland is to play host to what is by far the largest naval military exercise that has ever been seen in Finnish territorial waters. The drill will be joined by 50 ships and 2,500 persons.
The Northern Coasts (NOCO) manoeuvre is a multinational crisis management operation that takes place in the Baltic Sea. It will include participating vessels and troops from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, the Netherlands, France, and the United States.
In the Northern Baltic Sea the exercise will extend to the waters near Finland in the area of Finland’s Southwestern Archipelago. To the east in the Gulf of Finland the drill will extend to an area between Hanko and Kirkkonummi. In the north it will reach the level of the city of Uusikaupunki.
The operation will include exercises both on the sea and on land.
At least according to the Finnish Navy, the exercise does not have anything to do with the Baltic Sea’s planned underwater gas pipeline, Nord Stream.
But at least off hand, Annele Apajakari, Chief Public Information Officer at Navy Command Finland, was unable to say why also the United States, the Netherlands, and France will be involved.
The maritime operations will be supported by air and special troops. The exercise’s emphasis is on the archipelago conditions, which differ greatly from the conditions in the southern Baltic Sea.
The demilitarised Åland Islands themselves will be left outside the scope of the drill.
The framework of the exercise is a conflict between two countries that has an effect on the surrounding countries as well. In the operation, various threats will be simulated, such as terrorism, smuggling, and environmental catastrophes.
Apart from Finland, most of the participating ships will come from Sweden and Germany, 12 to 15 vessels from each. From Finland nearly the entire Navy fleet will be included.
Denmark, too, will send several ships to the exercise, whereas from elsewhere such as the Netherlands and France, only solitary ships will arrive. As far as is known the United States will take part in the drill with mine clearance vessels and unmanned reconnaissance aerial drones.
The NOCO exercise will take place between September 10th-24th.
Previously the same drill has been organised four times, led by Germany in the southern Baltic Sea.
In the future the idea is to rotate the role of the host among the participating countries.
The September exercise will take place in cooperation with the rest of the sea and air traffic. Possible restrictions will be announced at a later date.
Also the various environmental considerations, such as the fuelling of the participating vessels, will be planned later.
The exercise will take place in the vicinity of a national park.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Parliament debates problems of gas pipeline (9.10.2009)
Military vessel presence increases in the Baltic (8.9.2009)
Estonian military source: Increased Russian naval activity in Baltic Sea (27.1.2010)