US warship calms Sweden’s NATO nerves


In the Swedish capital this weekend, everyone was talking about the American warship.

Moored in the main waterway linking Stockholm with the Baltic Sea, the towering presence of the USS Kearsarge dominated the city center, its 253-meter-long silhouette creating a new militaristic skyline against the early summer sun.

A couple of Danish tourists walking along the waterfront speculated that the American ship’s arrival could have something to do with Sweden’s recent application — alongside Finland — to join NATO, or maybe it just reflected the underlying cause of those applications: the darkening of the regional security picture following nearby Russia’s attack on Ukraine. 

“I can see why they want to join NATO,” one of the tourists said to her companion. “There’s just so much uncertainty about where things are headed.”

The reality is that the Kearsarge has a dual mission in the Swedish capital. 

Officially, the ship’s visit to Stockholm is to participate in a military training exercise involving 14 NATO states plus Finland and Sweden, which will test the ability of these countries’ navies, air forces and armies to work together. The exercise, called Baltops, will run all week and involve landing exercises along the Swedish and German coasts. 


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