The U.S. Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) joined her sister ship, USS Ross (DDG 71) in the Black Sea to conduct maritime security operations, on Feb. 17, 2018.
The statement from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said that a second U.S. Navy ship in the Black Sea is part of an operational schedule that helps sustain the U.S. Navy’s operational presence in the region. It added that these naval activities will be conducted in accordance with international law, including the 1936 Montreux Convention which regulates maritime traffic through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus international straits.
“Our decision to have two ships simultaneously operate in the Black Sea is proactive, not reactive,” said Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. “We operate at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region. By nature, ships are flexible, mobile forces, and the Navy is uniquely capable of providing credible and capable forces to defend our nation’s interests throughout the world.”
The last time two U.S. ships operated in the Black Sea was July 2017, during U.S.-Ukraine co-hosted exercise Sea Breeze. U.S. 6th Fleet ships regularly conduct bilateral and multilateral patrols with our Black Sea partners and allies, including Bulgaria and Turkey, and to conduct exercises with other partners and allies.
“The continued presence of the U.S. Navy in the Black Sea demonstrates our enduring commitment to regional stability, maritime security of our Black Sea partners, and the collective defense of our NATO allies,” said Grady.
In 2017, the U.S. 6th Fleet participated in three exercises in the Black Sea: Spring Storm, Sea Shield and Sea Breeze.
Spring Storm took place March 13-21, 2017. U.S. participation in the bilateral, Romania-led exercise focused on tactical unit and staff interoperability between Romanian and U.S. Navy forces. The Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit led U.S. efforts in the exercise, which consisted of amphibious operations and maritime defense drills.
Sea Shield, a multinational Romanian-led exercise took place Feb. 1-10, 2017. U.S. participation included Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) and focused on deploying leading technology and combat capability in support of allies and partners in collective defense of the Black Sea region. The goal of the exercise was to improve the interoperability and combat proficiency of participating units.
Exercise Sea Breeze took place July 10-22, 2017. Air, land, sea and amphibious forces from 16 nations participated in the exercise, which focused on warfare areas to include maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and amphibious warfare. This exercise occurs annually and is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, strengthen combined response capabilities, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner nation forces to ensure stability in the Black Sea region. Participating U.S. assets included the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64).
In addition to the three named exercises, five ships from U.S. 6th Fleet entered the Black Sea in 2017-2018 to participate in bilateral and multilateral training, and port visits: USS Carney from Jan. 5-13, 2018; USS Porter from Aug. 18 to Sept. 1, 2017; Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) in May 2017; USS Carter Hall in March 2017; and Porter from Feb. 2-11, 2017.
Port visits provide an opportunity for U.S. forces to build regional relationships and gain appreciation for diverse cultures. Bilateral and multilateral training is aimed toward improving maritime capabilities and reassuring NATO allies and regional partners of the commitment of the U.S. to the alliance and to maritime security and stability in the Black Sea region.
U.S. 6th Fleet conducts joint and combined operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests along with security and stability in Europe and Africa.