By Theodore Quintana
KIEL, Germany – Waxhaw native Nathan Utesch is participating in the Baltic Operations exercise with 18 other nations.
The multi-national training exercise, scheduled for June 8 to 21, fosters cooperative relationships critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s oceans.
Utesch is a midshipman with the U.S. Naval Academy.
“Going to the Naval Academy always felt right,” Utesch said. “I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Commander, C2F, Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, will lead the exercise on behalf of U.S. Naval Forces Europe. His fleet was re-established last summer as a response to the changing security environment.
“Through BALTOPS 2019 and exercises like it, we strengthen our relationships and improve overall coordination and interoperability between allies and partners during both peace and times of conflict,” Lewis said.
The exercise will begin in Kiel, Germany, with the pre-sail conference. At-sea training will occur throughout the Baltic Sea, including Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden. At the end of the exercise, most ships will sail to Kiel, Germany, to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival.
Allied nations with ships and forces participating include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden will also participate in the exercise.
“Serving in the Navy, I feel, is all about relationships,” Utesch said. “I know people now I didn’t know a week ago. The Navy also allows me to understand and practice leadership.”
Theodore Quintana serves as mass communication specialist 2nd class for Navy Office of Community Outreach.