A helicopter of the Ukrainian Navy lands aboard the USS Ross during last year's Sea Breeze naval exercises. Sea Breeze 2019, a 12-day,19-nation training drill, begins in Ukraine on Monday. Photo courtesy of Exercise Sea Breeze/Twitter
June 28 (UPI) -- A 19-nation naval exercise hosted by Ukraine begins on Monday, and the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet announced its participation this week.
Sea Breeze 2019, which has been held annually since 1997, is a multinational maritime exercise with land, sea and air components. Its intent is to "build combined capability and capacity to ensure maritime regional security and foster stronger friendships among partnering nations," the Navy said in a statement this week.
Ukraine and the United States will host the 12-day event, meant to enhance interoperability and capabilities among participating forces. Field training exercises, with a focus on protecting critical infrastructure, force protection, and maritime security operations, will be performed.
Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate in the event, which will bring together 32 ships, 24 aircraft and over 3,000 troops.
"It is assumed that international exercises will take place in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, in Mykolaiv, Kherson and Odessa regions," the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The exercise will also include a simulation of hostile forces blocking the Danube River, which will involve the Ukrainian Border Guard Service to escort civilian vessels from the Danube to the Black Sea. Border guard services of Ukraine, Georgia and Romania will also patrol the river. The river element is new to the exercises this year.