The destroyer USS Ross is en route to the Black Sea, the U.S. Navy said on Sunday. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Ross is traveling through Turkey's Bosporus Strait to the Black Sea, the U.S. Navy reported.
While in the Black Sea, a strategic location in Eastern Europe bounded by Russia, Ukraine and six other nations, the ship will "conduct maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability, combined readiness, and naval capability with our NATO allies and partners in the region," a Navy statement said on Sunday.
It is the first Navy ship to enter the sea this year. Last week, the USS Ross briefly joined Task Force 473, a carrier strike group of the French navy, in the Mediterranean Sea.
The task force, led by the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, routinely welcomes ships from allied countries to participate in its long-term mission against the Islamic State. The USS Ross similarly coordinated with the French carrier strike group in 2019.
In February 2018, at a time of heightened U.S.-Russia tensions following the indictment of 16 Russian citizens for alleged involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it joined the destroyer USS Carney in the Black Sea for an "unspecified regional proactive presence mission."
Russia's National Defense Management Center, an agency of its Defense Ministry, said that the USS Ross is under watch by Russian military ships in the sea.
"The Black Sea Fleet has deployed its capabilities to monitor the movement of the U.S. Navy's Ross destroyer, which entered the Black Sea at 6:30 p.m. [15:30 GMT]," the Center said on Sunday in a statement.