KIEL, Germany — Petty Officer 3rd Class Lorelei Collins, a native of Manchester, participated in the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise with 18 other nations.
“This is my first deployment and first BALTOPS,” said Collins. “I hope to learn best practices from the partner nations we are doing the exercise with. I’m excited to gain new experience.”
BALTOPS 2019, scheduled for June 8-21, provides a unique training opportunity that fosters cooperative relationships critical to ensuring safety and security at sea. According to U.S. Navy officials, it is designed to train participants, enhance flexibility and inter-operability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region.
Collins is a boatswain’s mate aboard the USS Gravely, stationed in Norfolk, Va.
“I’m in charge of damage control maintenance on the deck division,” she said.
The Gravely is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer homeported in Norfolk. Navy guided-missile destroyers are multi-mission ships, equipped with tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and a phalanx close-in weapons system. The ships can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea.
“My dad’s in the Army,” Collins said. “I was supposed to join the Army but they lost my paperwork, so I joined the Navy.”
BALTOPS 2019 was planned and led by the U.S. 2nd Fleet (C2F), as directed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe. C2F was re-established last summer as a response to the changing security environment, and BALTOPS 2019 marks the first time the renewed fleet was operating in Europe. Some participating ships were set to sail to Kiel, Germany, to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival (Kiel Week).
C2F Commander Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, is leading the exercise on behalf of U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
The exercise is “founded on NATO and partner principles,” said Lewis. “Through BALTOPS 2019 and exercises like it, we strengthen our relationships and improve overall coordination and inter-operability between allies and partners during both peace and times of conflict.”
Allied nations with ships and forces participating in BALTOPS 2019 included Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden also participated in the exercise.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Collins is most proud of the surface warfare pin she earned last month.
“I accomplished something that seemed impossible at the time,” Collins said. “It was very hard to find the time to get it done, but I got it done.”
“I grew up watching my dad in the Army. He loved it,” Collins said. “What I do in the Navy makes my parents proud. I’m the only female in my family who has served in the military, and I hope that they see me and I’m an inspiration for them to serve.”