The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) departed the Black Sea after a series of engagements promoting peace and stability in the region, June 12.
Vella Gulf’s mission, while in the Black Sea, was to work with NATO allies and European partners, demonstrating the United States’ commitment to strengthening and improving interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region.
“Our time in the Black Sea was a positive experience that reinforced and further developed our relationships with partner nations,” said Vella Gulf’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Robert Katz. “This was an excellent opportunity to work closely with our NATO allies, increase our levels of interoperability, and continue to foster enduring friendships.”
Vella Gulf conducted port visits in Varna, Bulgaria, and Constanta, Romania. In Bulgaria, Vella Gulf Sailors hosted the Bulgarian navy Chief of Staff, Capt. Kosta Andreev. During Vella Gulf’s stop in Romania, the ship hosted U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Fleet Commander of the Romanian navy.
Additionally, Vella Gulf completed an underway engagement with the Turkish navy, June 10. These interactions served to build understanding and strengthen the bonds between the two navies.
Vella Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is deployed in a multi-mission role in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to contribute to regional maritime security, conduct bilateral and multilateral training missions, and to support NATO operations and deployments throughout the region.
Press Release, June 13, 2014; Image: Wikimedia