US Navy sends two destroyers to the Black Sea

The US Navy now has two guided-missile destroyers in the Black Sea after USS Carney transited the Bosphorus on February 18.

Carney is joining sister ship USS Ross which entered the Black Sea on February 17.

Recognizing the fact that having two destroyers in the Black Sea is not something the navy does on a regular basis Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, the US 6th Fleet commander, said the decision to have destroyers operate in the Black Sea was “proactive, not reactive.”

“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,” Vice Adm. Grady said.

The US Navy said the naval activities would be conducted in accordance with international law, including the 1936 Montreux Convention which regulates maritime traffic through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus international straits.

The last time two US ships operated in the Black Sea was July 2017, during US-Ukraine co-hosted exercise Sea Breeze. US 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 US 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 US 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. US participation in the bilateral, Romania-led exercise focused on tactical unit and staff interoperability between Romanian and US Navy forces. The Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit led US 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. US 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. Participating US 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 US 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.