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HELSINKI, Finland - The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) arrived in Helsinki, Finland, Dec. 2, 2022, marking the completion of the ship’s participation in the Finnish Navy Command-led exercise Freezing Winds 22.
Freezing Winds enhanced military capabilities and strengthened the partnership between the U.S. and Finland in a challenging environment. The exercise involved units and personnel from 12 countries, including Finland, Sweden, the United States and NATO Allied Maritime Command’s (MARCOM) Standing NATO Maritime Group (SNMG) 1. The exercise included combined joint maritime operations with both naval and amphibious aspects, testing allied and partner nations’ interoperability and proficiency through a variety of warfare areas in a challenging scenario.
“Our annual maritime defense exercise provides a unique opportunity to rehearse demanding combat tasks in the harsh November weather conditions of the Baltic Sea,” said Commodore Jukka Anteroinen, Chief of Staff of the Finnish Navy Command. “The involvement of the U.S. partners is a very welcome enhancement to the Finnish Navy’s Freezing Winds 22 exercise. High-level assets such as USS Paul Ignatius, P8 Poseidon and the always professional Marine Corps personnel bring a great add-on value to our maritime operations with significant capabilities they provide. Our combined training will increase the stability and security of the entire Baltic Sea region.”
Paul Ignatius joined the exercise on Nov. 25 and has participated in numerous events during the exercise to build skills in communications integration, formation steaming, air and missile defense, surface warfare and strike warfare. Additionally, Sailors conducted cross deck evolutions with the Royal Danish Navy Absalon-class frigate HDMS Esbern Snare (F342) and Royal Netherlands Navy De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate HNLMS Tromp (F803), both currently assigned to SNMG 1.
“My crew and I are thankful for the fantastic exercise facilitated and led by our Finnish partners. Freezing Winds 22 provides an excellent platform for multiple nations to further integrate and enhance our lethality at sea,” said Cmdr. Aaron Arky, commanding officer of Paul Ignatius. “The stability and security of the Baltic region depends upon the strength of our navies. The Finnish Navy is a world class organization and my crew was honored to sail with them in true cold weather environments.”
Paul Ignatius’ participation in Freezing Winds and subsequent port visit to Helsinki further bolsters the strong and enduring relationships established between U.S. and Finnish military forces, especially in the maritime domain. Earlier this year, multiple U.S. destroyers and ships assigned to the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, including USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), conducted port calls in Helsinki while operating throughout the Baltic Sea.
While in port, the crew will enjoy the sights and culture of Helsinki and welcome some guests onboard for guided tours. This visit provides an opportunity for Paul Ignatius Sailors and the local Finnish population to strengthen interpersonal bonds as the U.S. and Finland continue their close coordination to ensure security and stability in the Baltic Sea region.
Four U.S. Navy destroyers, including Paul Ignatius, are based in Rota, Spain and are assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These FDNF-E ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.