July 11 (UPI) -- The United States is participating in the 18th annual Sea Breeze exercise this week in the Black Sea with air, land and sea forces from 17 nations.
The U.S. Navy announced this week that it has arrived in the Black Sea for the 18th iteration of the exercise, which runs until July. 21. Air, land and sea forces from 17 nations will participate.
The exercise includes training in interdiction, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue and amphibious operations.
The nations participating this year include Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, in addition to the United States.
The U.S. contribution is to be the Blue Ridge-class USS Mount Whitney, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Porter, a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol plane from Patrol Squadron 10, Marines, divers from the Navy Underwater Construction Team 1, and assorted support staff. Overall, 810 U.S. personnel are expected to participate.
"This year's Sea Breeze is the first time we will take the staff to sea and embark the U.S. 6th Fleet flag ship, USS Mount Whitney," Capt. Matthew Lehman, commodore of Task Force 65, said in a Navy press release.
"We will be operating our flag ship alongside our NATO allies and partner nations in the Black Sea. The maritime portion will incorporate all warfare areas to continue to build on last year's successes while pushing the exercise to become more advanced to adhere to the ever-changing operational environment."
On Jul, 6 the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine completed a NATO-led planning operations course with British Navy instructors to prepare for Sea Breeze and deep with U.S. support.
"I want to say that we have successfully planned a series of events with a view to the deployment of ships and aviation groups that arrived to participate in the Sea Breeze 2018 exercises in Odesa and Mykolaiv regions and in the northwestern part of the Black Sea," Vice-Admiral Ihor Voronchenko, commander of the Ukrainian navy, said at the opening of ceremony of the exercise.
"We also took into account the fact that we have another, tenser situation in the basin of the Black and Azov Seas compared to the one that was a year ago."