Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) entered the Black Sea on Sunday, becoming the first US Navy ship to do so since the Kerch Strait incident from November 2018 when Russia fired on, and seized, three Ukrainian Navy ships near the the Kerch Strait.
USS Fort McHenry, with embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), began its north-bound transit of the Dardanelles Strait, en route to the Black Sea, January 6.
“USS Fort McHenry’s transit into the Black Sea reaffirms our collective resolve to Black Sea security and enhances our strong relationships with our NATO allies and partners in the region,” said Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, US 6th Fleet. “Our routine operations in the Black Sea also demonstrate the inherent flexibility and capability of US 6th Fleet naval forces.”
The US Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea consistent with international law, including the Montreux Convention. During 2018, The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS Porter (DDG 78), the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) with embarked elements of the 26th MEU, and Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), all conducted operations in the Black Sea.
Homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Fort McHenry is on a regularly scheduled deployment in the US 6th Fleet area of operations with the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24), and US Marines assigned to the 22nd MEU, headquartered in Camp Lejeune, N.C.