The warship, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and an array of anti-aircraft weapons, will join the US-led Sea Breeze exercise, to be held in Bulgarian waters.
The annual naval drill, which kicks off several hundred miles away from Russia’s Crimea peninsula, will involve 27 warships, nine aircraft and 2,413 sailors from ten NATO countries, including the host nation Bulgaria, as well as Belgium, Greece, Italy, Spain, Romania, US, Turkey, France, and non-member Georgia.
The USS Porter which entered the Black Sea last week, also takes part in the exercise alongside its NATO allies.
Breeze 2020 will improve the military readiness of all participants and enhance the tactical interoperability of participating naval units and staffs in conducting conventional and non-conventional warfare procedures.
“Exercise Breeze 20 is critical to strengthening relationships with NATO allies and partners in the Black Sea.” said Capt. William C. Pennington Jr., commodore of Combined Task Force-67. “Complex exercises such as Breeze, provide an excellent opportunity for U.S. 6th Fleet (C6F) maritime patrol squadrons to increase their operational proficiency and communication interoperability, while conducting combined maritime patrols. Our strong relationship continues to grow with the Bulgarian Navy and other partner nations participating in Breeze, and we look forward to future opportunities to operate together.”
This is the 24th iteration of the annual exercise, which routinely focuses on assessing multi-national partners’ interoperability and ability to conduct regional maritime security operations in the Black Sea, as well as providing a platform for evaluation of Bulgarian Navy units.
The last time the Porter sailed into the Black Sea was in April of this year.