The United States’ Sixth Fleet’s command and control ship USS Mount Whitney has entered the Black Sea at the weekend, the second US warship to do so in as many days after the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter.
USS Mount Whitney, a Blue Ridge-class command and control ship, would “conduct maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability, as well as strengthen combined readiness and naval capability among NATO allies and partners,” the US Sixth Fleet said.
As part of these mission sets, the ship will operate in the Black Sea to participate in the Sea Breeze 2018 exercise in Ukraine. USS Porter, which arrived in the Ukrainian port of Odessa on July 8, was also scheduled to take part in the exercise.
“The USS Mount Whitney is excited to return to the Black Sea. We look forward to working with our partners in the region to build relationships that promote peace and economic stability in the region and the globe. Mount Whitney’s presence will assure our partners and allies of our commitment to maritime security and shared interests,” its commanding officer, Capt. Robert Aguilar, said.
Sea Breeze is an annual exercise held in the Black Sea, co-hosted by Ukraine and the United States. The exercise will focus on a variety of warfare areas including maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control tactics, search and rescue and amphibious warfare, the US Sixth Fleet said.
The US Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea consistent with the Montreux Convention and international law, the statement said.
(Blue Ridge-class ship command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), flag ship of US 6th Fleet, at its forward-deployed port in Gaeta, Italy in December 2017. Photo: Interior Communications Electrician Petty Officer 3rd Class Rebeca Gibson.)