SHIROKY LAN, Ukraine —
The 18th iteration of exercise Sea Breeze concluded July 17 following a closing ceremony in Odessa, Ukraine.
Sea Breeze is a U.S. and Ukraine co-hosted multinational maritime exercise held in the Black Sea and is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen regional maritime security.
“Our sailors and Marines worked on the water, in the air, on land and under the sea,” said Navy Rear Adm. Shawn Duane, vice commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet. “Twenty-nine ships from 18 nations participated, and many tactical skills were practiced and perfected.”
For the first time during Sea Breeze, the staff embarked the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney during the at-sea portion of the exercise.
More than 150 staff members from various countries made up the Sea Breeze 2018 maritime operations center aboard Mount Whitney.
“The reason we wanted to go afloat this year was that it keeps people singularly focused on the exercise with no distractions,” said Navy Capt. Matt Lehman, commander of Task Force 65.
Participants were familiar with some of the training the exercise offers, officials noted, and bringing the planning and execution aboard Mount Whitney added an additional layer of real-world training.
“This year’s exercise presented new challenges and new areas to improve that will allow us to make next year’s exercise even more complex,” said Coast Guard Lt. Ryan Newmeyer, Task Force 65 maritime planner. “As we increase the interoperability between our Black Sea partners and NATO allies we need to continue to adapt to the changing environment, and embarking staff aboard the USS Mount Whitney is just one way of doing that.”
Ships from the United States, Bulgaria, Turkey and Ukraine and participated in different scenarios while underway. Maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control tactics, search and rescue and medical training are some areas the exercise focused on.
“The purpose of the at-sea phase of the exercise was to work with NATO and non-NATO navies to conduct serialized events in a variety of warfare areas,” Newmeyer said.
Navy Cmdr. Craig Trent, executive officer of the guided missile destroyer USS Porter, lauded the effort the nations exuded for this year’s Sea Breeze.
“The success of this year’s exercise is a very positive step in building our partnerships and strengthening each other’s capabilities,” Trent said. “Each year our exercise grows in complexity, and we intend to carry this trend forward.”