The major international exercise US Baltops on the Baltic Sea has been completed. The Netherlands participated with a torpedo ship, 3 mine hunters and a hydrographic recording vessel.
Approximately 25 ships from 10 countries trained for 2 weeks. This was done first on the basis of a previously announced program. Then followed a tactical phase without a scenario. The previously practiced skills were used to successfully carry out the mission.
The mine hunters Makkum and Vlaardingen and the Snellius shooting vessel were part of a task group with 2 French and 2 Polish ships. Sr. Ms. Makkum found a 1st sea mine. This way the task force knew that there were enemy units in the area. The mine hunting proved to be crucial not only on operational but also on strategic level. Sr. Ms. Vlaardingen also detected a mine. That happened with the help of Remus underwater robot. It has been developed to operate in shallow water and is used, for example, to quickly scan an invasion beach for mines or other obstacles.
The task group accomplished its goal within 3 days. The result: 3 sea mines and a beach prepared for an amphibious landing.
“The Dutch units trained at a high level. Good for mutual cooperation and international relations “, says Mercuur commander Lieutenant-Rik Woertman on Baltops. His ship and Sr. Ms. Urk is currently part of the international minefield fleet Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1. The Mercuur has been a staff member of the fleet for almost 6 months. Woertman: “For us this was one of the last exercises of a challenging but successful deployment as a staff ship for NATO.”