Naval forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held massive exercises in the North Atlantic on September 21st under wartime secrecy conditions to avoid close observation by Soviet ships.
Aircraft carrier and Russian destroyer
MS USS Independence
(3) MS Aircraft being prepared on deck
MS Planes fly over Russian destroyer
MS Aircraft taking off from carrier
MS Russian trawler
MS Aircraft lands on carrier
MS Stem of U.S. cruiser -- Missiles appear
MS Cruiser elevates missiles
MS Missiles in action amidships
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Background: Naval forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) held massive exercises in the North Atlantic on September 21st under wartime secrecy conditions to avoid close observation by Soviet ships.
A spokesman said the operation was "kept classified until today to give any foreign power the minimum of time to get into position" to watch the exercise.
The 12-day manoeuvres, involving warships from seven NATO countries, began on September 20th and will continue until October 2nd. About 160 ships, 170 aircraft and 30,000 men are taking part. The exercise, called "Team Work", features a merchant convoy of more than 20 ships from eight countries. This will be protected by the NATO warships.
"At no time since World War Two has there been an armada of this nature assembled until today," the spokesman said.
The purpose of the exercise was "to keep the Atlantic Ocean to NATO."
The NATO warships were simulating nuclear and conventional attack in support of allied forces in Northern and Central Europe. The exercise stretched over a vast expanse of ocean from Iceland to the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay.
The exercises include mine laying, mine sweeping and anti-submarine warfare in addition to the nuclear and conventional attack. The fleet was operating with complete radio silence. The NATO spokesman said the exercises were under such war-like conditions that Reserve officers from Britain and America were called into the service for the two-week period.
It was known that various Soviet units were operating in the exercise region off the coast of Norway during the summer and autumn and it was possible they were still there.
NATO sources revealed on September 22nd that Soviet planes had been detected flying near the scene of the exercise. The intruders, two Soviet Bison bombers, were intercepted by fighters from the 76,000-ton U.S. aircraft carrier Independence and escorted from the area, according to the sources. Russian trawlers have also been shadowing the fleets.
The exercises were under the joint command of Admiral H.P. Smith, U.S. Navy, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, and Admiral Sir Wilfred Wood, Royal Navy, Allied Commander-in-Chief, Channel.