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The Baltic Sea - Military Considerations

he Baltic Sea is shallow, a major and difficult-to-navigate sea. Merchant shipping in the Baltic Sea region is brisk. The states in the region are dependent on regular shipping. The Baltic Sea is patrolled by the armed forces of many nations and NATO troops. The area is also rich in trade, labor and employment of pleasure craft and air transport. The multinational business environment, various international offices,challenges and proximity to other nations pose challenges for sea operations, both in normal and exceptional circumstances.

There are several points in the Baltic Sea where governments have strategic influence. Most important for Finland's maritime traffic nodes are the Porkkala Naissaari specterIn the Gulf of Finland and the narrow gulf of Mrketseas. land has its own special position in the Baltic Sea region. The area is demilitarized, but Finland has defense obligation.

The Danish straits consist of the three relatively shallow straits of the Great Belt, the Little Belt and Oeresund that connects the North Sea and the Baltic. Oeresund, the most direct connection, is at its narrowest point only three miles wide with a minimum depth of seven meters. Jutland and these two main islands are all connected by bridges. Zealand is also connected to Sweden by bridge, forming the Oeresund region with Swedish urban centers such as Malm.

The shallowness of the Baltic Sea and the proximity of the coastline make fixed submerged submarines structures such as communications, gas and oil pipes cost-effective installation and maintenance. These structures also make it possible to installation and use intelligence and intelligence equipment.

The small size of the Baltic Sea, varying weather and depth conditions and the international waters limit the use of large submarines and large ships. Large ship compartments are easily exposed, and in the enemy can target the weapon effects quickly and surprisingly.

It is possible to close the limited fairway and narrow gaps effectively with mines. This can relatively easily restricts the free use of the sea, but it also causes significant disruption to maritime transport. The Baltic Sea region is primarily suitable for smaller conventional submarines and miniature submarines. For conventional diving underwater operation of a boat requires waters at least 20-30 meters deep. Short travel distances allow long operating times in the area of operation. Submarines are able to land almost to the bottom everywhere in the Baltic Sea and better than the oceans.

These archipelagoes provides shelter for land operations. Enemy control and search systems pose the difficulty in the use and the ability of the weapons to destroy targets may be limited. The use of submarines in the archipelago is difficult because of the depth variations and the waters are shallow on average. High winds and the resulting waves limit the operation of light fleet units on the high seas.

The North Baltic Sea may have annual surf with a significant wave height of more than six meters. Hard surf, icy conditions, snow and sleet as well as rainfall caused by temperature fluctuations and fog weakens the performance of control and weapon systems and make them more difficult to use. In the Baltic Sea, aircraft operate mainly working from the ground base. Short distances make possible unmanned aircraft use. Depending on the weather conditions, their range covers the whole area. Freezing of the sea limits the ability of fleet units to operate, and make it difficult to use their weapon systems and ship support and protection arrangements. Ice-winter makes mining difficult. Especially it makes submarine combat and mine-clearing more difficult.

The extent of the Baltic Sea ice cover varies considerably every year. Defined by ice cover however, the severity of an ice winter does not tell the whole truth of the resulting difficulties for shipping. Th wind effects on the ice field is to create compression that drives ice on top of each other to form icebergs. Often, there will be a situation where some ports and archipelago are frozen, but the rest of the Baltic Sea is not.

Climate change has been found to affectal Finland for decades. It has been estimated that no severe ice winters will cover the entire Baltic Sea occuronly after the 2030s. However, it has also been estimated that all of Finland's short sea areas will freeze in the 2050s even on average and mild ice winters at least for two months each year. Navies must have the ability to operate in ice conditions in the future.

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Page last modified: 24-09-2019 19:12:40 ZULU