Parkersburg native among sailors taking part in BALTOPS
KIEL, Germany — A Parkersburg native in the U.S. Navy is participating in the Baltic Operations exercise, dubbed BALTOPS, with 18 other nations in the Baltic Sea.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyson Williams is a logistics specialist attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 based in Norfolk, Va. The squadron operates MH-60S Seahawks and deploys with units of the Second, Fifth and Sixth Fleets.
“Our primary focus is all flight operations during BALTOPS,” said Williams. “For me, the biggest thing is making sure the aircraft parts get to the ship on time to maintain full mission capability. I’m hoping to train up the ship’s sailors to get their aviation warfare pin and help the rest of my squadron get their surface warfare pin.”
BALTOPS 2019, which began June 8 and will conclude on June 21, includes sea, air and land operations.
The multi-national training exercise fosters cooperative relationships critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world’s interconnected oceans. According to U.S. Navy officials, it is designed to improve training, flexibility and interoperability and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region.
Williams credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Parkersburg.
“I grew up on a cattle farm, so for me the biggest thing is hard work,” Williams said. “I also learned a lot of nature survival doing Boy Scouts that I’ve applied to my service in the military.”
The exercise was planned and is being led by U.S. Second Fleet, as directed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe. The fleet was re-established last summer as a response to the changing security environment and BALTOPS 2019 marks the first time the renewed fleet will be operating in Europe.
Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis is leading the exercise on behalf of U.S. Naval Forces Europe.
The exercise will begin in Kiel, Germany, with a pre-sail conference. At-sea training will occur throughout the Baltic Sea, including events scheduled near: Putlos, Germany; Saaremaa Island, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Ravlunda, Sweden.
At the end of the exercise, most participating ships will sail to Kiel to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival (Kiel Week).
Allied nations with ships and forces participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden also will participate in the exercise.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Williams is most proud of a Navy Safety Excellence award he got after saving several cars from igniting while at a previous command.
“I was just happy that I did the job,” said Williams.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Williams and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Being in the Navy, it’s like working in a family business,” Williams said. “You are not born into the family, but you grow into the family. You learn, you do your job and you pass it on. Your business is protecting your home.”