Shoreham is perfect curtain-raiser for major Baltic war games

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet

HMS Shoreham leads fellow minehunters BNS Primula and Sweden's HSwMS ships Ven, Vinga and Kullen during some combined training in the Baltic .

Faslane-based Shoreham is in the final few weeks of her attachment to NATO's Mine Counter-Measures Group 1 which patrols the waters of northern Europe practising dealing with the threat of 21st-Century mines and blowing up any historic weaponry the ships encounter on their travels.

After Tallinn in May, last month the NATO group made for Karlskrona in southeastern Sweden to prepare for the major naval exercise of the year in the region, the US-led Baltops (Baltic Operations).

The week in the central Baltic with the Swedes saw some seamless tactical manoeuvring , followed by a series of mock attacks on the minehunters.

The Karlskrona archipelago made for an interesting backdrop to the exercise as fast patrol boats and low-flying aircraft.

The training continued with the rare opportunity to conduct winching with a Swedish Search and Rescue helicopter, giving one 'lucky' sailor - AB(MW) Joshua Bertman - the chance to be hauled up from the Sandown-class ship's deck.

"It was an amazing experience and something that I never thought I would do," said Joshua.

With the weather setting in and the winds increasing the force made a dash across the Baltic to the shelter of the North German coast where they conducted close-in manoeuvres before going to anchor together.

With the week complete all of the ships sailed for their next port of Szczecin, Poland, where many of the Baltops participants gathered before the live, at-sea phase of the exercise - running now - got going.

It was an amazing experience and something that I never thought I would do

AB(MW) Joshua Bertman