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Four NATO Ships Due in Black Sea Ahead of Maritime Exercise

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Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) conduct small boat operations in a rigid-hull inflatable boat on Aug. 3, 2014. US Navy Photo

Sailors assigned to the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) conduct small boat operations in a rigid-hull inflatable boat on Aug. 3, 2014. US Navy Photo

Four NATO warships are due in the Black Sea in the next several days ahead of an international maritime exercise to include Ukraine, according to press reports and information from the U.S. Navy.

Guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) was scheduled to transit the Bosphorus Strait today — U.S. 6th Fleet annouced — as well as the French frigate Commandant Birot (F796).

“Ross’ presence in the Black Sea serves to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to strengthening the collective security of NATO allies and partners in the region,” according to a release from U.S. 6th Fleet.
“The ship is scheduled to work alongside NATO allies and partners in the region during its time in the Black Sea, enhancing interoperability and improving regional security.”

The Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto (FFH-333) and the Spanish guided missile frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón (F-102) are due in the Black Sea in by Sept. 7, according to a Wednesday report by the Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

Guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG-72) departed the Black Sea on Aug. 26.

The ships are scheduled to support the latest iteration of exercise Sea Breeze, which will kick off on Sept. 8 and run until Sept. 10, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters on Wednesday.

The exercise will focus on basic naval skills including maritime interdiction operations, force protection, navigation and humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR) missions, a defense official told USNI News.

A separate land-based exercise — Rapid Trident — has been scheduled in the next weeks in Ukraine at at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center located in Yavoriv, Warren said on Wednesday.

A multi-national exercise focused on mine-counter measure training, Exercise Breeze, concluded in July.

French signals intelligence ship Dupuy de Lôme (A759), is reported in the Black Sea, as part of an ongoing presence mission following the Russian seizure of the Crimea region of Ukraine in March.

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.

With a steady rotation of assets, the number of NATO ships in the Black Sea has been up to nine — the highest level in several decades.