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Blue Game

Blue Game is an annual maritime littoral warfare exercise with extensive mine warfare play. It is one of the biggest NATO exercise in Europe. Exercise is aimed at unit level training for all maritime and air forces with a role in littoral warfare. Conducted in North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and Western Baltic, normally with participation of SNFL, MCMFORNORTH and an allocated Combined Air Operations Command (CAOC). COMNAVNORTH is OSE and OCE rotates between COMJCNORTH and COMJCNORTHEAST.

Recent defense draw downs have meant the disappearance from many NATO navies' inventories of the threat systems, such as diesel electric submarines and fast patrol boats (FPB), that are likely to be encountered in 'out of area' littoral operations.

Exercise BLUE GAME 2000 was an annual exercise involving Fast Patrol Boats (FPBs) and MCM vessels from Denmark, Norway and Germany. During the course of the exercise there were up to 30 different FPBs and close to 20 MCM vessels. Also included in the exercise were Nimrods, Tornados, Lynx and Sea King helicopters from Germany, Denmark and the UK.

The final week of EXERCISE BLUE GAME 2000 was basically a mini-war in the Baltic Sea between Denmark and Germany. This involved the slow build up of enemy forces and surveillance ops by both sides prior to a final TACEX that was, in the end, cut short, due to the engagement and subsequent destruction of the other side about 10 hours prior to the programmed end of the serial. Nevertheless the objectives of the exercise were still met. The final weekend of the exercise saw a visit to Kiel, Germany. Another Cocktail Party was held, this time hosted by the German Navy onboard FGS DONAU.

The Major NATO maritime exercise nicknamed "Blue Game 2001" took place in Norwegian and Danish waters from 23 April to 11 May 2001. This year it has been organized for the third time. The aim is to exercise NATO Maritime Forces in littoral waters up to and including "NATO article 5" operations. The exercise included a variety of maritime warfare aspects and the main focus of the exercise will be on Mine Counter Measures. More than 70 naval vessels and a more than 50 aircraft from 10 countries participate in the exercise. Contributing countries are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, UK and US.

The most important element in this exercise is that a NATO fleet is tasked to enter a area of conflict in order to secure transport along the coastal waters. This scenario is considered highly relevant, therefore this exercise. The exercise scenario is no longer based on a Cold War counter-invasion but on a notional crisis-management scenario that steadily escalates, the skills transportable to out of area crisis zones. A picture was painted of two notional coast states locked into a confrontation that dragged in NATO maritime forces to clear minefields laid in international waters at the behest of the United Nations. Then one state extends its territorial waters, imposes shipping taxes and stages live weapons firings to inhibit movement of international shipping.

Air forces involved in Exercise Blue Game 2001, under the control of a maritime air operations centre (MAOC) at NATO's Joint Command North in Stavenger, Norway, represented the full spectrum of air power.

Blue Game 01 was scheduled by Commander Naval Forces North Europe and was conducted by Commander Joint Command North Europe from his Headquarters in Stavanger, Norway. Participating forces gathered in the city of Kristiansand, South Norway from 21 April and exercised throughout the period along the coast of South Norway, in Skagerak and in Danish territorial waters.

Blue Game 2001 is a good example on the future developments of NATO exercises against the threats, which could occur. NATO would for instance be able to strengthen its close coastal combat operations by integrating small, but fast vessels in the surface force. Furthermore some exiting elements are trained during Blue Game. USA is laying mines with B52's and detecting mines with special trained dolphins. Canada has sent mining vessels across the Atlantic to participate. Poland is establishing its position in organisation with mine sweepers. Norway is participating with its newly established coastal mobile artillery, which consists of hellfire missilegroups.

In addition to traditional mine laying and mine clearing operations strategic minelaying by B52 aircraft flying in from the US will be exercised. A team of four bottlenose dolphins from the US Navy Marine Mammal system will also be employed to detect, locate and mark practice mines off the coast of South Norway.

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