The U.S. Navy Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) began its northbound transit into the Black Sea on June 18, to conduct maritime security operations and strengthen relationships with regional partners and allies.
Oak Hill will join the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), which reentered the Black Sea on June 17, having operated there in April. This visit by Oak Hill is the fourth visit by a U.S. Navy ship in 2020. The ship is deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), along with amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and amphibious transport dock ship USS New York (LPD 21), which are operating in the Mediterranean Sea.
Embarked aboard the ARG ships are the Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and personnel from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, who can deploy a landing craft utility (LCU) vessel from the well deck of Oak Hill to transport more than 300 Marines – or a combination of Marines, vehicles and heavy equipment – ashore.
“Oak Hill’s operations alongside Porter in the Black Sea represent another opportunity for us to enhance maritime security and expand interoperability at sea with regional partners,” said Navy Capt. Lance Lesher, Commodore of the Bataan ARG.
“Oak Hill’s arrival introduces the Navy-Marine Corps team’s dynamic ship-to-shore capability and crisis response capability to the Black Sea for the first time this year, providing additional mission flexibility for U.S. 6th Fleet commanders in our continued efforts to reinforce security and stability in the region,” Lesher said.
The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea consistent with international law, including the Montreux Convention.
During Porter’s previous operations in the Black Sea, the ship conducted maneuvering operations with the Romanian frigate Regina Maria (F222). Porter, forward-deployed to Naval Station Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.