'Baltic bikini' rescue drills start in Liepāja

July 24 sees the start of the 'Baltic bikini 2017' in Latvia, which despite its name is not a politically incorrect beauty pageant but drills involving military and civilian personnel in Liepāja on the west coast.

Running from July 24 to July 28, Baltic Bikini 2017 will involve more than 100 Baltic and US soldiers in cooperation with the State Border Guard and the Emergency Medical Service.

The scenario this year is based on the range of skills required after an aircraft ditches in the water.

The training will be supported by two Mi-17 helicopters and the navy's M-08 "Rūsiņš" vessel, plus heavy involvement of coastguards.

"The purpose of the international military training is to train aircraft crew after a forced landing in water, improving the interoperability of the resources of the units involved in training, and promoting cooperation with the Emergency Medical Service and the State Border Guard," said a statement by the Defense Ministry.

Those given the role of crew aboard the stricken plane will have to abandon the aircraft in distress and use the available rescue equipment to stay on the water for at least one hour - after which time at which a search and rescue helicopter should arrive to pick them up.

Baltic Bikini 2017 will take place both in the Naval Training Center and in the Baltic Sea itself at Liepaja. These are annual exercises that have been rotated since 2004 in one of the Baltic States and include aircraft crews - pilots, ship mechanics, and rescue teams.

The previous Baltic Bikini exercise in Latvia took place in 2014. You can see LTV's news report from the time below.

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