KIEL, Germany – Fireman Brian Joy, a native of Chicago, is participating in the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise with 18 other nations.
“Overall we have learned a lot together during this deployment ,” said Joy. “Getting through the 112 days out to sea brings us together. I’m excited to go to the next port. The other navies all have the same bearing and attitude. We all get along together and it’s nice meeting peole from different cultures.”
BALTOPS 2019, scheduled for June 08-21, includes sea, air and land assets. The multi-national exercise provides a unique training opportunity that fosters cooperative relationships critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. According to U.S. Navy officials, it is designed to improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region.
Joy is a hull maintenance technician serving aboard USS Fort McHenry.
Fort McHenry is a Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship named for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, the 1814 defense of which inspired The Star-Spangled Banner. Whidbey Island class ships have the largest capacity for landing crafts of any U.S. Navy amphibious platform.
Joy credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Chicago.
“I joined the Navy to grow up,” said Joy. “The military taught me lessons about what I should and shouldn’t be doing compared to what I was doing back home.”
BALTOPS 2019 was planned and is being led by 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 will be operating in Europe.
Commander, C2F, Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, will lead the exercise on behalf of U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
“As you all are aware, U.S. 2nd Fleet will be leading the exercise, but make no mistake, it will be founded on NATO and partner principles,” said Lewis. “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.”
The exercise will begin in Kiel, Germany with the pre-sail conference. At-sea training will occur throughout the Baltic Sea, including events scheduled near Putlos, Germany; Saaremaa Island, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, Lithuania and Ravlunda, Sweden. At the end of the exercise, most participating ships will sail to Kiel, Germany, to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival (Kiel Week).
Allied nations with ships and forces participating in BALTOPS 2019 include 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 will also participate in the exercise.
Serving in the Navy means Joy is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“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, Joy is most proud of earning the Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification and being able to see other countries.
“I get to support this ship on a day-to-day basis making sure the structural integrity is in tact,” said Joy. “I have a purpose to help people out every day.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Joy and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy is an honorable thing,” said Joy. “Both my grandparents served. I do this job so people can be safe at home. It is important to me. I get to be a part of a great team.”