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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 262-98
May 26, 1998

U.S. FORCES PARTICIPATE IN BALTOPS '98

The United States and 12 European nations will participate in the 26th annual maritime exercise U.S. Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) '98. The exercise will include 52 ships, submarines, and aircraft from European allies and Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations to include: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Norway, The Netherlands, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, and the United States. The exercise will take place in the Western Baltic Sea, June 8-19, 1998.

BALTOPS '98 is conducted in two at-sea phases. Phase one, the partnership phase conducted in the spirit of the PfP initiative, is June 8-12. This BALTOPS' phase is intended to improve interoperability with allies and partnership nations by conducting at-sea exercises in gunnery, at-sea replenishment, undersea warfare, radar tracking, mine countermeasure, seamanship, and search and rescue. Phase two, to be conducted June 15-19, will exercise participating NATO naval forces in a variety of maritime operations.

BALTOPS '98 demonstrates U.S. interest in the security of Northern Europe through NATO member solidarity and enhances mutual understanding and coordination of maritime operations among the United States, NATO member nations, and non-NATO nations. The emphasis of this exercise is on regional stability, regional understanding and interoperability among the participating forces.

Adm. T. Joseph Lopez, commander in chief, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, is the exercise sponsor. Rear Adm. E. Winston Copeland Jr., commander, Carrier Group Eight, based in Norfolk, Va., will command the exercise from his flagship the guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72). Additional information on the exercise and participants is available at the BALTOPS '98 web homepage at: www.navy.mil/homepages/ccg8/baltops.htm [not available].