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NATO holds major naval exercise in Atlantic, Mediterranean

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Exercises include world’s newest, largest aircraft carrier, numerous warships, warplanes, thousands of soldiers

NATO navies have been holding naval exercises in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea throughout November, bringing together five aircraft carriers, warships and thousands of sailors, a NATO statement said Saturday.

Numerous warships and warplanes have accompanied US, UK, Italy and French aircraft carriers during the exercises involving anti-submarine and air warfare drills, deck-to-deck aircraft transfers and at-sea resupplying.

In the North Atlantic, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s newest and biggest warship, arrived in the UK after weeks of drills alongside warships from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth on Nov. 10 for F-35 fighter jet drills in the North Atlantic.

In the Mediterranean, the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle, escorted by Greek, American and Italian ships, left Toulon on Nov. 15 for deterrence patrols on NATO’s eastern flank and counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East.

“In recent weeks, jets from the George H. W. Bush have flown deterrence patrols over Lithuania and Poland. Following exercises, Italy’s Garibaldi returned to Taranto on 15 November,” according to the NATO statement.

Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the deployments “demonstrate our ability to project power across the Alliance and to rapidly reinforce Allies.”

On the other hand, NATO reported that two Russian fighter aircraft made “an unsafe and unprofessional approach” toward NATO Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), which was conducting routine operations in the Baltic Sea early Thursday.

“The Russian pilots failed to respond to Allied forces’ standing query communications and overflew the force at an altitude of 300 feet and a distance of 80 yards,” it said.

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