U.S. Destroyer Operating Near the Black Sea for First Time Since Russia Invaded Ukraine

February 3, 2023 12:42 PM - Updated: February 3, 2023 2:37 PM
USS Nitze (DDG-94) at anchor near the entrance to the Bosporus Strait on Feb. 3, 2023. Photo by Yörük Işık‏ used with permission

USS Nitze (DDG-94) stopped on the edge of the Bosphorus Strait, on its way to make a port call in Turkey, USNI News understands. It’s the closest a U.S. warship has been to the Ukraine-Russia war since it started nearly a year ago.

Nitze was seen by ship spotters at the lower edge of the strait on Friday. Turkey closed the Bosphorus Strait to warships on Feb. 28, 2022, four days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Since the closure, only warships with ports on the Black Sea, which includes Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and Turkish ships, can enter.

The last American warship to transit the strait was USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), which left the Black Sea on Dec. 15, 2021. The ship entered the Black Sea in November 2021 following a port visit in Bulgaria, USNI News previously reported.

U.S. 6th Fleet confirmed in a tweet that Nitze anchored off Instabul’s coast ahead of a scheduled port call at Gölcük Naval Base.

Nitze, which is operating as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, stopped near Istanbul near the Dolmbahçe Palace, U.S. 6th Fleet confirmed in a statement to USNI News. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake and U.S. Consul General to Istanbul Julie Eadeh took a small boat over to the destroyer and spent a couple of hours on the ship.

“Türkiye is a highly valued NATO Ally,” Flake said in a 6th Fleet news release. “Nitze’s visit is an opportunity to further strengthen our long-standing and vital partnership with Türkiye.”

Nitze’s scheduled port call at Gölcük Naval Base is the third port call the destroyer has made in 6th Fleet’s area of operation since deploying in July 2022.

During the port call, Nitze leadership is expected to meet with Turkish military and civilian leaders, according to the release.

“Türkiye’s joint operations with the U.S. Navy in the Mediterranean Sea reinforce the power of the NATO Alliance and enhances interoperability. The Mediterranean is a critical waterway for maritime commerce and stability throughout Europe. The U.S. Navy routinely operates in this region in close coordination with our regional Allies and partners,” the release reads.

USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) also made a scheduled port call Friday, with the ship arriving at Piraeus, Greece, according to a release from the CSG.

During the port call, Bush leadership will meet with Greek leaders as part of U.S. efforts to strengthen NATO relationships. Sailors on the ship will have a chance to explore Piraeus and Athens.

“Our mission on deployment has been to work closely with our partners and NATO Allies in order to deter, and if necessary, defend the Alliance,” CSG commander Rear Adm. Dennis Velez said in the release. “Port visits like this one provide an opportunity for us to engage with our Allies and develop meaningful relationships that make a substantive difference across our force.”

The strike group’s cruiser, USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), also made a port call in Greece on Jan. 30, 6th Fleet announced earlier this week. Leyte Gulf pulled in at Souda Bay, Greece.

“The port visit is part of Leyte Gulf’s planned mid-deployment voyage repair (MDVR) maintenance period and allows Leyte Gulf Sailors much-deserved leisure time while taking in the sights, art, history and food of Crete,” according to the release.

The George H.W. Bush CSG deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in August, replacing the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, which had been operating there since December. Both carrier strike groups have gone under NATO control while operating in U.S. 6th Fleet’s area of responsibility.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
Follow @hmongilio

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