NATO Sending Five Ships to Baltic to Bolster Defense of Eastern Allies

One of the ships in NATO's naval group is the BNS Bellis (photo: Mark Harkin)

One of the ships in NATO's naval group is the BNS BellisNATO is sending part of its naval rapid reaction force to the Baltic Sea as part of measures to step up the defence of its eastern European allies in response to the Ukraine crisis, the alliance said on Thursday.

A multinational group of five small ships – four minesweepers and a support vessel – will be sent to the Baltic Sea “for the foreseeable future”, a spokesman for NATO’s Maritime Command said. . . .

The ships from Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia make up one of four NATO naval groups that the alliance has available as an immediate reaction force.

The NATO “mine counter measures” group had been inactive since January but was called back to duty last week by U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top military commander.

“During this period of tension, we felt it appropriate to deploy (the group) to the Baltic Sea as part of a broad package of actions by NATO’s maritime, air, and ground forces,” Breedlove said in a statement.