Navy Destroyer and Cruiser Leave Black Sea After Exercising with NATO Allies

March 24, 2021 2:56 PM
Sailors man the rails as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) departs Constanta, Romania, March 23, 2021. Monterey is operating with the IKE Carrier Strike Group on a routine deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations. US Navy photo.

A U.S Navy guided-missile destroyer and guided-missile cruiser left the Black Sea this week following drills with NATO allies.

The Navy announced cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) and destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) moved into the Mediterranean Sea following a multinational drill organized by Romania.

“Sea Shield 2021 is an annual Romanian-led multinational naval exercise in the Black Sea focused on enhancing interoperability between U.S. and participating nations, emphasizing anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, and mine countermeasures mission sets,” U.S. 6th Fleet said in a news release.

Monterey left the Black Sea and sailed through the Bosphorus into the Mediterranean Sea today, and Thomas Hudner made the transit on Tuesday.

“Our operations in the Black Sea demonstrate our commitment to NATO partners and supported the provision of stability in the maritime environment through reassuring presence of an active naval force to deter destabilizing activity,” Capt. Joseph Baggett, Monterey’s commanding officer, said in the news release. “Our operations in this strategic waterway were professional, timely and critical to enabling global operations that serve to counter malign influence.”

Both ships arrived in the Black Sea last week to perform drills with NATO allies, USNI News recently reported.

“Our trip to the Black Sea was very productive,” Cmdr. Bo Mancuso, Thomas Hudner‘s commanding officer, said in a separate news release. “We are excited to have been part of a continual integration of air and maritime units operating across the U.S. European Command area of responsibility for establishing air and maritime superiority and to continue enabling freedom of navigation in all international waters and airspace.”

Before leaving the Black Sea, Monterey pulled into port in Constanta, Romania, earlier this week to refuel, according to 6th Fleet.

Multiple countries were slated to join for the Sea Shield drill, including “[m]aritime forces from Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine,” 6th Fleet said.

Chief Quartermaster Amy Birkholz, from Kalamazoo, Minnesota, left, looks through binoculars at a bearing indicated by Quartermaster Seaman Aaron Maluffgaray, from Asuncion, Paraguay, aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) while operating in the Black Sea on March 21, 2021. Monterey is operating with the IKE Carrier Strike Group on a routine deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations. US Navy photo.

Monterey and Thomas Hudner deployed last month with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. While it is the second deployment in a year for aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), escorts Monterey and Thomas Hudner are new to the CSG.

In January, two U.S. destroyers and a fleet oiler operated in the Black Sea. The destroyers – USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Porter (DDG-78) – and USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) were drilling with NATO, USNI News reported at the time.

The Montreux Convention limits the presence of non-Black Sea countries’ navies in the sea, but U.S. Navy leaders have said they prioritize the Black Sea region and aim to be present there for about a third of the year. Other NATO forces also aim to be present in the Black Sea for another third of the year, collectively with the U.S. promoting security in the region and pushing back against any aggression from Russian military forces.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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