A U.S. guided missile destroyer has entered the Black Sea for the first time this year, according to the ship-spotting site Bosphorus Naval News.
USS Porter (DDG-78) is the first U.S. surface ship to cross the Bosphorus Strait this year as part of the ongoing Operational Atlantic Resolve. The operation stood up shortly after Russia seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and has been marked by a revolving cast of NATO ships conducting semi-regular presence operations and exercises in the region.
While the presence for the U.S. has been higher in the last year and a half than it has in decades, alliance leaders have complained NATO has not done enough to curtail Russian expansion.
Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said complained to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg the alliance needed to do more in the Black Sea to prevent Russian dominance in the region.
“I told him ‘You are absent from the Black Sea’,” Erdogan said in an address to Balkan military leaders.
“The Black Sea has almost become a Russian lake, If we don’t act now, history will not forgive us.”
Russia is in the midst of a regional naval buildup that includes the construction of several surface ships and submarines that will be based in the Russian Navy base in Sevastopol, Crimea. Additionally, reports indicate Moscow has been moving anti-ship ballistic missiles into Crimea and its Baltic Sea exclave in Kaliningrad.
Porter is one of a quartet of ballistic missile defense (BMD) destroyers forward deployed to Naval Station Rota, Spain.
According to a statement from U.S. 6th Fleet, Porter, “will conduct port visits and bilateral exercises with partner navies. The ship’s operations in the Black Sea are meant to enhance maritime security and stability, readiness, and naval capability with our allies and partners.”
All warships 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.