15 Swedish Navy’s warships, 80 small boats and 2,000 sailors together with helicopters and small airplanes participated in the naval exercise ‘Swenex 20’, which took place between 11 - 21 May, 2020 in the waters of Skagerak and the Baltic Sea.
The event was joined by Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1). SNMG1 with the flagship HNoMS Otto Sverdrup and FGS Rhon played the role of a simulated adversary to the Swedish naval forces who defended Swedish territory from the intruders.
The aim of the exercise has been to train coordinated maritime combat and maritime protection operations. Sweden and NATO share the same interest of peace and stability in the Baltic, with safe and secure sea lines of communication for all.
“Even though Sweden is not a NATO nation, we train and exercise together. I find our participation in this exercise important and extremely valuable. Sweden and NATO share the same interest of peace and stability in the Baltic, with safe and secure sea lines of communication for all. Knowing each other’s capacities, procedures and ways of communicating is important for us to be able to work together in a possible situation that demands common effort from both NATO and Sweden” said Commander of SNMG1, Commodore Yngve Skoglund.
In recent years, the situation in the Baltic Sea region has become more unpredictable. In addition, regional states are in a period where their society has been facing major challenges with the spread of coronavirus.
“The task of the Armed Forces is to have preparedness to protect Sweden against armed attack, regardless of the situation our country is in. It makes it even more important that we train and develop our capabilities even during periods of strained situations. In Swenex 20, we have honed our ability to protect shipping on the west coast, and trained to face an attack at sea on the east coast”, said exercise leader Jonas Källestedt.
In order not to risk the spread of coronavirus during the exercise, several extra measures have been taken. Among other things, a careful health check on the participants prior to the start of the exercise, high demands on hand hygiene and that distance is kept as far as possible.
After a spring session that has seen several major exercises reduced or even cancelled due to COVID-19, ‘Swenex 20’ gave valuable opportunities for training and exercising air defence as well as surface and subsurface scenarios.
In a few weeks another major exercise is due in the Baltic Sea when the annual Baltops starts on 7th June. Two NATO groups, SNMG1 and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One, will take part and play a vital role in the exercise that is led by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO).
Based on press releases from NATO and the Swedish MoD