The US Navy’s 6th Fleet announced that it dispatched its flagship vessel, Mount Whitney, into the waters of the Black Sea for joint drills with NATO forces, according to a statement from the US fleet’s press office, APA reports citing TASS.
“US Sixth Fleet and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO – STRIKFORNATO [Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO] staff embarked SIXTHFLT command and control ship USS Mount Whitney LCC 20, Oct. 29, 2021,” the statement reads.
“During the underway, Mount Whitney and the embarked staffs will operate alongside NATO allies and partners in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, working together to ensure security and stability in the region,” according to the statement.
“Operating and exercising together demonstrates NATO’s commitment to maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters for all nations,” the statement added.
NATO warships periodically enter the Black Sea. In late January, the Russian Black Sea Fleet tracked the US Navy guided missile destroyers Porter and Donald Cook.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly stated that the presence of warships in the Black Sea that belong to states outside of the region does not boost stability there. The US insists that it acts within the framework of the Montreux Convention that regulates the transit of naval ships through the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits while the drills run in international waters.