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US Navy starts first Black Sea operation of 2021

USS Donald Cook
US Navy file photo of USS Donald Cook transiting the Bosphorus Strait

Guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) transited the Bosphorus Strait on January 23 to start the first US Navy Black Sea operation of 2021.

The destroyer and a US Navy P-8 maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft from Sigonella, Italy, were already joined by NATO Air Command E-3A AWACS aircraft based out of Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany, for the first round of training in the region.

The training mission is part of an ongoing integration of air and maritime units throughout US European Command area of operations. The ultimate goal is to refine joint air defense procedures to better defend US Navy ships.

Participants conducted training scenarios to establish air and maritime superiority, which enable freedom of navigation in all international waters and airspace.

“As I observed our combat watchstanders, I was impressed with the crew’s growing familiarity with NATO joint interoperability procedures, readiness to cooperate with friendly units, and excitement to perfect our tactical proficiency by real-world application,” said Cmdr. Matthew Curnen, commanding officer of USS Donald Cook. “This is exactly what we train for, and the opportunity to perform alongside allied surface and air assets is rewarding.”

The US Navy noted it routinely operates in the Black Sea to work with NATO allies and partners, including Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. When it comes to operations in the Black Sea, the total tonnage of warships a country with no Black Sea shores can have in the region must not exceed 15,000 tons. This is regulated by the Montreaux Convention from 1936.