19-nation Black Sea drill Sea Breeze 2018 kicks off

Photo: Odessa Port Authority

The Ukraine-hosted and US Navy-led international exercise Sea Breeze kicked off in Odessa, Ukraine, on July 9.

According to the Ukrainian defense ministry, a total of 19 nations are taking part in the drill which is aimed at enhancing interoperability among participating nations and strengthen regional security by focusing on a variety of warfare areas.

Some 29 surface vessels, one submarine, 25 aircraft and about 3,000 personnel are taking part.

The most prominent participants are the US Navy destroyer USS Porter and command and control ship USS Mount Whitney. Other known participating units include Turkish frigate TCG Yavuz and Type 209/1200 submarine TCG Yildiray -which recently sank a retired tanker in a torpedo exercise, and Bulgarian frigate BGS Bodri.

Exercises will be held in the Odessa and Mykolaiv regions and will include maritime interdiction operations, air defense, antisubmarine warfare, damage control tactics and search and rescue and amphibious warfare.

“This year’s Sea Breeze is the first time we will take the staff to sea and embark the US 6th Fleet flag ship, USS Mount Whitney,” said Matthew Lehman, commodore of the US Navy Task Force 65. “We will be operating our flag ship alongside our NATO allies and partner nations in the Black Sea. The maritime portion will incorporate all warfare areas to continue to build on last year’s successes while pushing the exercise to become more advanced to adhere to the ever-changing operational environment.”

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