Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook left the Black Sea on Monday after conducting multinational exercises and stirring a Russian response.
The USS Cook's arrival came two months after Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea. The Ukrainian ships were fired upon, and 24 crew members were detained. The Ukrainian ships illegally crossed the Russian maritime border on the sea, Russia said, and a criminal case was opened.
While in the Black Sea, the USS Cook conducted security operations "enhancing regional maritime stability, combined readiness and naval capability with our NATO allies and partners in the Black Sea," the U.S. Navy said on Monday in a statement.
The ship also visited the port of Batumi in the Republic of Georgia, with sailors participating in a sports day with Georgian sailors. Prior to the visit, the Cook's crew and the Georgian Coast Guard conducted integrated search and seizure exercises.
The U.S. Navy regularly operates in the Black Sea, consistent with international law. The sea, which is bounded by seven countries including Russia and Georgia, is entered from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosphorus Strait.