The exercise took place in the Gulf of Finland, the Archipelago Sea, and off the southern coast of Finland in Finnish territorial waters and the Baltic Sea.
There is no such a thing as too much training. Only through continuous cooperation and improvement of our skills we are able to carry out our tasks at the highest level. By joint exercises, we get to know each other, which is the key to success in an international environment
This large-scale maritime defence exercise enhanced military capabilities and strengthen the partnership between allies and partners. It provided participants the opportunity to rehearse naval and amphibious operations as an integral part of international joint defence operations against multi-domain threats in harsh environmental conditions. It also focused on the protection of important trade and logistics routes and critical undersea infrastructure.
“It was a perfect occasion to strengthen interoperability with Allies and partners,” Commander, SNMCMG1 Polish Navy Commander Piotr Bartosewicz said. “There is no such a thing as too much training. Only through continuous cooperation and improvement of our skills we are able to carry out our tasks at the highest level. By joint exercises, we get to know each other, which is the key to success in an international environment.”
Twenty-nine combat ships, support vessels, amphibious units, land and air forces, and around 4,000 personnel from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States took part in the exercise.
The prevailing weather conditions in the northern Baltic Sea at this time of year added environmental challenges. In addition to the swell and wind, the participants endured severe cold temperatures and days of constant snowfall. Together with the operational course of the exercise, the conditions required a high degree of flexibility and professionalism from all task group units.
“This is not the first time we have participated in an exercise on this scale,” Bartosewicz said. “There is nothing unusual about it. However, the conditions in which we conducted the operation were unique. Winter season, temperatures much below zero, and the Archipelago Sea with thousands of islands and rocks - those are the challenges we have to face here. Exercise Freezing Winds certainly lived up to its name.”
The exercise kicked off with a pre-sail conference in Turku, Finland, from Nov. 17 to 22. During that time, the Groups replenished supplies and made final preparations for the upcoming exercise events. After extensive planning and coordination, the vessels headed to the Gulf of Finland and Archipelago Sea to train together for the next nine days.
The Groups practiced NATO standard procedures, tactics and techniques including surveillance and protection of Finnish waters, securing sea lines of communication, and repelling maritime attacks. The realistic, live-training exercise included various complex, tactical-level challenges within maritime, land, and air environments. These drills enhanced the Groups’ ability to secure maritime traffic, which is essential to all countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.
SNMCMG1 has been under Polish Navy command since the beginning of July. During the exercise, task group comprised the flagship Polish Navy ORP Czernicki (511) along with an international staff on board; minehunters French Navy FS L'Aigle (M647), German Navy FGS Bad Bevensen (M1063), Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS Vlaardingen (M863) and two Polish Navy minesweepers ORP Druzno (641) and ORP Hancza (642).
Participating ships from SNMG1, led by German Flotilla Admiral Thorsten Marx, included flagship German Navy frigate FGS Hessen (F221) and tanker FGS Spessart (A1442), and Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Tromp (F803).