The 52nd iteration of Baltic Operations 2023 (BALTOPS 23), NATO’s premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, began in Tallinn, Estonia, on June 4 and will last until June 16, Report informs, citing the US Navy.

Nineteen NATO nations, one NATO partner nation, 50 ships, more than 45 aircraft, and 6,000 personnel are participating in BALTOPS 23.

Started in 1972, BALTOPS is an annual exercise that visibly demonstrates NATO’s commitment to preserving regional peace and security by exercising a team of international forces that can rapidly respond in a time of crisis.

Participating nations include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Türkiye, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Though Finland has long participated in BALTOPS as a critical partner, BALTOPS 23 marks the first incorporation of Finland as a NATO Ally. BALTOPS remains an alliance proving ground, and is vital for honing the leading edge of combined interoperability in mine countermeasures, unmanned surface vehicle operations, and integrated maritime and air operations.

This year’s exercise features, for the first time, robust training in personnel recovery using unmanned surface vehicles. Another enhancement to BALTOPS23 is the collaboration of sixteen chaplains representing three different faith/life stance traditions from eight participating nations. Their focus is to promote the strength of spirit that enables Sailors and Marines to accomplish the mission with honor. These additions – along with others underwater and space domain, will build on last year’s BALTOPS 2022 scenario story lines, including the integration of the NATO Space Center for space domain scenarios.