A U.S. guided missile destroyer and an amphibious warship are set to operate in the Black Sea as part of the Sea Breeze 2016 exercise hosted by Ukraine and the U.S., the Navy announced on Friday.
Later today, Arleigh Burke destroyer USS Ross (DDG-17) will join 2,500 personnel from 13 countries for the exercises that include, “maritime interdiction operations as a primary means to enhance maritime security. Other warfare areas to be tested include air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and other tactical maneuvers,” according to the Navy.
Ross – one of four U.S. destroyers based in Rota, Spain — will join the amphibious warship USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41) that entered the Black Sea on Thursday.
The amphib embarked with a Marine “Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team, members of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit 8, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 (Seabees), CNE-CNA/C6F Maritime Ashore Support Team (MAST), staff members from CNE-CNA/C6F, and embarked Marines.” The U.S. also sent a P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft to the two-week exercise.
Other countries involved in the exercise include Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the U.K.
Turkey has sent an unknown number of ships to join the exercise in the midst of the failed coup attempt. U.S. European Command did not elaborate how many ships were expected when asked by USNI News on Thursday.
Like last year, Russian state-controlled media have warned the exercises – which have taken on an additional significance since Russia seized the Crimean portion of Ukraine in 2014.
Russian news wire Sputnik reported the exercises would be monitored by Russian signals intelligence ship Liman (SSV-824).