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Freezing Winds 23 to start in the Gulf of Finland and off the southern coast - First Finnish-led major naval defence exercise with Finland as a member of NATO

Publication date 15.11.2023 14.01
Press release
Hamina-luokan ohjusvene merellä.

The autumn’s main exercise Freezing Winds 23 led by the Finnish Navy will be held from 20 November to 1 December 2023. In addition to the Finnish Navy, troops from the Finnish Army and Air Force, the Swedish Navy and several Allies will participate in this international naval exercise. Freezing Winds 23 is the first major naval exercise led by Finland as a member of NATO.

The exercise will feature a total of appx 30 combat vessels, service and support vessels, transport vessels, as well as coastal and land troops. The total strength of the exercise will be more than 4000 persons.

The objective of the exercise conducted in the area of the Gulf of Finland and the Archipelago Sea is to rehearse naval operation execution as part of international joint operations in the circumstances of the Finnish coast and the Baltic Sea.

- Our this autumn’s main exercise is the first one that we will execute as a large NATO exercise in which also our Swedish partners will be strongly involved.  By training together, we will not only strengthen military capabilities, but also interoperability and our ability to work together, says the commander of the exercise, Captain (N) Juhapekka Rautava.

In addition to Finnish vessels and troops, the exercise will involve the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, SNMG1 with three vessels in total from Germany and the Netherlands, as well as the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One, SNMCMG1 with a total of seven vessels from Poland, Germany, the Netherlands and France.

The large number of mine countermeasures vessels participating in the exercise is a demonstration of NATO’s interest in and commitment to the protection of underwater infrastructure, Rautava adds.

In addition, the US Marine Corps 2nd Marine Logistics Group deployed in Uusimaa Brigade since the beginning of November will also take part in the exercise.  What is more, US EOD will operate in the exercise together with Finnish EOD divers.

Landing ship dock RFA Mounts Bay of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom and a UK Marine detachment will participate and conduct amphibious operations with the troops of Uusimaa Brigade.

Sweden will participate with Göteborg-class corvettes HMS Sundsvall and HMS Gävle and service  vessels Trossö and Ulvön.  Estonia’s participation involves mine countermeasures vessel Wambola.

Operating on the ground, at sea and in the air

The exercise will increase military vehicle traffic in the Western Uusimaa region in particular.

Allied nations will participate with 16 aircraft. Exercise air operations will be flown over Southern Finland and the Northern Baltic Sea area all through the exercise. In addition to the Air Force, the Army and Border Guard will also conduct air activities.

A detachment of F/A 18 multirole fighters from the US Marine Corps,  French maritime patrol aircraft Atlantique 2, and SNMG1 naval operations helicopters will be involved in the exercise.

Aircraft countermeasures chaff and flares will be used during the exercise.  Chaff may provoke erroneous observations on weather radar and infra-red flares may be seen in the sky as momentary, bright, luminous phenomena.

International vessels in Turku and Helsinki

Participating vessels will berth in Turku at the beginning of the exercise from 17 to 22 November. The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One, SNMCMG1 and Standing NATO Maritime Group 1, SNMG1 will berth at the Port of Turku.  The Swedish vessels will also berth in Turku.   RFA Mounts Bay, in turn, will berth in Helsinki from 19 to 22 November.  The vessels will not be open to the public.

You can follow the exercise events in Finnish Navy social media (Facebook, Instagram, X)  by following hashtags #FRWI23, #Merivoimat and #Navyfi.