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RAF personnel in Lithuania join president Gitanas Nausėda at Klaipeda Sea Festival

By Jonathan Clark

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ROYAL AIR FORCE personnel serving in Lithuania have joined the country's president at the Klaipeda Sea Festival.

President Gitanas Nausėda and first lady Diana Nausėdienė at Klaipeda Sea Fesitval.
President Gitanas Nausėda and first lady Diana Nausėdienė at Klaipeda Sea Fesitval.

The festival, which takes place on the west coast of the country, is an important annual national event in Lithuania that is both a celebration of maritime culture and a commemoration of those who have been lost at sea.

Although this year it was reduced due to coronavirus restrictions, it was still able to do ahead.

The RAF and Spanish Air Force detachment commanders, who are currently conducting the NATO air policing mission from Lithuania, were invited to join president Gitanas Nausėda for the act of remembrance.

The focus of the commemoration part of the festival was a short ceremony conducted aboard the Lithuanian naval ship Kuršis.

Klaipeda Sea Fesitval.
Klaipeda Sea Fesitval.

Led by President Nausėda, the ceremony also included Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, the RAF detachment commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Jesus Gutierrez Gallego, the Spanish detachment commander, who both laid wreaths on behalf of their respective countries.

Wing Commander Gwinnutt said: “It was a great honour to be invited to join the president’s party aboard LNS Kuršis, especially as she is a former Royal Navy warship.

"Both Air Force detachments currently serving in Lithuania with NATO are from countries with a strong maritime tradition and it was a great experience, not least to meet our colleagues from the Lithuanian Navy.”

Operation AZOTIZE Drawdown.
Operation AZOTIZE Drawdown.

Following the wreath laying ceremony an RAF Typhoon and Spanish Airforce EF-18 carried out a joint flypast in tribute to those lost at sea.

RAF Typhoons of No.6 Squadron, from RAF Lossiemouth, are currently working alongside a detachment of Spanish F-18 fighters of Ejercito Del Aire.

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