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Cruiser Vella Gulf Leaves Black Sea, More NATO Ships Inbound

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USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) departs the Black Sea and enters the Bosphorus Strait on Aug. 26, 2014.

USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) departs the Black Sea and enters the Bosphorus Strait on Aug. 26, 2014.

The U.S. guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) has left the Black Sea and two more NATO ships are inbound, according to Russian press reports.

Vella Gulf has rotated in and out of the Black Sea in the past few months as part of NATO’s presence mission following the Russian seizure of Crimea region of Ukraine.

“Our Black Sea operations were excellent training opportunities for Vella Gulf to work with our maritime partners, and we enjoyed our port visits to Romania and Georgia,” said Capt. Robert Katz, Vella Gulf’s Commanding Officer in a Tuesday U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa statement. “Being [here] afforded the opportunity to work together with our partners helps build greater maritime domain awareness in the Black Sea.

The ship has previously been in the Black Sea in conjunction with the Breeze 2014 NATO mine sweeping exercise.

The French signals intelligence ship Dupuy de Lôme (A759) is also reportedly in the region.

The U.S. guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) and the French frigate Commandant Birot (F796) will enter the region on Sept. 3., Russian press reported on Tuesday.

All warship from countries without a coast on the Black Sea operate under the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits.

Montreux rules call for foreign warships to depart the Black Sea after 21 days.

Including the a recent NATO mine counter measures (MCM) exercise with Bulgaira, the number of NATO ships in the Black Sea has been up to nine — the highest level in several decades.

  • EdC

    Honestly, does anyone who watches the Russian economy, military budgets and hardware maintenance levels really believe that the RF can maintain a sustainable, fighting fleet anywhere more than 100 miles from their borders or for more than 90 days of combat ops? Personally, I don’t think they can field more than four combat-ready divisions (at full-strength) or sustain blue-water fleet ops beyond 90 days of intense ops.