The destroyer Oscar Austin departs Norfolk May 20 for a 2-month deployment to 6th Fleet. (Navy)
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The destroyer Oscar Austin is heading over to Russia’s front yard.
The ship deployed Tuesday from Naval Station Norfolk to join this year’s Baltic Operations exercise, or BALTOPS, and to join in the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landings. The Oscar Austin will then conduct exercises with the Norwegian navy, and join 6th Fleet’s amphibious command ship Mount Whitney in the Baltic Sea for the larger exercise, Naval Surface Force Atlantic said in a Tuesday release.
Russia will likely be monitoring the exercise closely, which the U.S. called an opportunity boost trust and interoperability with Eastern European allies. Last year’s BALTOPS included Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United States: All countries that have either condemned or expressed concern over Russia’s recent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean region, unsettling the balance of power across the region.
The old Russian capital of St. Petersburg, known as Leningrad for a time, is located on the Baltic coast — as is the Russian Baltic Fleet.
The Oscar Austin is coming off a long maintenance period, spending only 78 days underway in 2013.
The destroyer will be underway for about two months, the release said.