by LeDahu for the Saker Blog


Unprecedented show of power projection by the US Navy with 2 Arleigh Burke class DDGs now deployed in the Black Sea.  The USS ‘Carney’ (DDG 64), on 17 February joined the USS ‘Ross’ (DDG 71) in the Black Sea “to conduct maritime security operations.” LINK


I’m having a hard time in recalling when was the last time that the Black Sea had two such US destroyers present, especially outside of an NATO exercise.  Certainly, they has been joint NATO exercises, such as ‘Sea Breeze 17’ in July 2017, where there was a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS ‘Hué City’, (CG 66), and an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS ‘Carney’ (DDG 64), participating, alongside other 15 other NATO and non-NATO countries, including Ukraine, including a ‘free game’ format in the Odessa and Nikolayev region, involving amphibious exercises. While the exercise was taking place, this article was published  about Ukraine hosting US military on its soil, for the foreseeable future.

It goes without saying that the arrival of the two US DDGs will attract the attention of Russia, coming at a time just before the presidential elections in March, raises the issue of the timing of these missions.  How would the US react to having two Russian combat ships, on “advancing its national interests” by sailing in the Gulf of Mexico, one month before US elections? You would certainly hear a gigantic heap of fuss being generated in Washington and in the US MSM. Of course, the Russian Navy will keep a watchful eye, as the ‘Pytlivy’ did for HMS Duncan and the others.

I think that the last time that the presence of the US Navy, at time of an important event in Russia, was at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.  Back then the US Navy deployed the USS ‘Mount Whitney’ to provide emergency cover, just outside Russian territorial waters if something should happen to the US sport contingent. LINK

Of course, somewhere in this upcoming naval activities is going to be more flights of P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft or even a Global Hawk drone or two, during the DDGs deployment, skirting the Russian airspace, and maybe, who knows another ‘unsafe interaction with a Russian naval or airforce fighter”, might take place, you the type that the Pentagon actually has a script for, (5ft or 50ft? distance), with “a 15-degree roll and violent turbulence”  both in the January 18 and in November 17 incidents. (Note: if you don’t believe me then type and search the exact phrase).

TABLE OF FLIGHTS 02.17.2018 at 23.07

Sure looks like an interesting development, as this second US DDG arrives on the back of recent NATO regional exercises.  The two DDGs are not part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two – (SNMG2), but part of  pre-deployed force based in Rota, Spain, tasked with what the US Navy calls: “Advancing U.S. national interests along with security and stability in Europe and Africa.”

Paradoxically, the USS ‘Ross ‘entered the Black Sea, when the UK Royal Navy’s destroyer HMS ‘Duncan’, as SNMG2 flagship, had just finished exercising with Romanian and Bulgarian doing PASSEX exercises.  HMS ‘Duncan’ also called into the Black Sea, 6 months ago, with a port call to Odessa as well. LINK and LINK IN RUSSIAN

What is also interesting, is the timing of USS ‘Carney’, previously having left the Black Sea back on the 13th January, after just 9 days in the Black Sea.  According to the US Navy press release, the fact that the USS ‘Carney’ has returned so soon is that the US Navy “operates at the tempo and timing of our choosing in this strategically important region.”   Notice also how the US Navy press release stresses its previous deployment as part of NATO exercises in 2017, such as ‘Spring Storm’, ‘Sea Shield’ and ‘Sea Breeze’, except for this time, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

The timing certainly raises eyebrows, but maybe the Washington thinks it is handy to keep the pressure on, for US domestic eyes and media alike. An uptick in US military activities in the Black Sea of late is something to be concerned about.



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Featured Image: Firing Line. US Navy sailors reload 9 mm handguns during a live-fire qualification course aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Carney in the Mediterranean Sea. Copyright US EUCOM



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