United States Navy destroyer USS Porter entered the Black Sea on Thursday (28 January 2021) to conduct routine maritime security operations and to train with Allies and partners in the region. Porter is the third US navy ship to enter the Black Sea in recent days, joining guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook and replenishment oiler USNS Laramie.
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu welcomed the deployment, saying: “The Black Sea is of strategic importance to NATO. Three Allies – Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey – are littoral states, while Georgia and Ukraine are close partners. In response to Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its ongoing military build-up in the Black Sea, the Alliance has increased its defensive presence in the region and remains strongly committed to Black Sea security”.
The US Navy and other NATO navies routinely operate in the Black Sea, consistent with international law, usually patrolling the waters for around two-thirds of the year. In addition, the Spanish Air Force has deployed six fighter aircraft to Romania for NATO air policing duties. During the two-month deployment, the Spanish aircraft are stationed at Kogalniceanu airbase on Romania’s Black Sea coast. The aircraft will fly patrols alongside the Romanian Air Force.
NATO is also strengthening support for Georgia and Ukraine, including with coast guard training and the sharing of information.