Sea Breeze 2016 opening ceremony takes place in Odessa

Photo: US Navy

Military leaders and maritime forces from participating nations attended the Sea Breeze 2016 opening ceremony in Odessa, Ukraine, July 24.

Sea Breeze, now in its 15th iteration, is an air, land and maritime exercise designed to improve maritime safety, security and stability in the Black Sea.

“The threats and challenges in which our military forces have to deal with these days are much wider than they used to be. Therefore, the capability of the military forces is not only about numbers of personnel or the quality or quantity of armaments, but [also] about military professionalism.”, said Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.

“This is the first Sea Breeze in which we’ve been able to have two U.S. naval ships in port. We are also glad to have been able to participate in the land phase portion of Sea Breeze through an amphibious landing that will involve more than 350 American personnel.”
, said Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine.

“Sea Breeze provides a great opportunity to enhance the interoperability of NATO allies and partners. It also promotes cooperative security throughout the Black Sea region.”, said Rear Adm. Cathal S. O’Connor, Chief of Staff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa

Speakers included Rear Adm. Cathal S. O’Connor, chief of staff, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa; Geoffrey R. Pyatt, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine; Judith Gough, United Kingdom Ambassador to Ukraine; Anatolie Salaru, Moldovan Minister of Defense; Stepan Poltorak, Ukrainian Minister of Defense and General of the Army; Vice Adm. Ihor Voronchenko, acting commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine; and Ivanna Klympush-Tasintsadze, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration.

Sea Breeze, now in its 15th iteration, began in 1997 as an annual exercise held in the Black Sea and is co-hosted by Ukraine and the United States. The exercise seeks to enhance interoperability with Black Sea and regional partners and strengthen regional security through air, land and sea components, which tests forces’ capabilities throughout the full spectrum of operations. Sea Breeze 2016 forces will undergo training both ashore and at sea.

The exercise seeks to create realistic training that will allow forces to execute air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and other missions in support of maritime security and regional stability.

Approximately 2,300 personnel from 13 nations are scheduled to participate in this year’s exercise.

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