June 22 (UPI) -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Laboon stopped in Romania over the weekend as part of its current deployment in the Black Sea, which includes the Sea Shield 2021 exercise, the Navy said this week.
The port visit from June 18-20 in Constanta, Romania, was part of its mission for the annual Romanian-led multinational naval exercise in the Black Sea, according to Monday press release.
Sea Shield 2021, held in March, focused on enhancing interoperability between the United States and participating nations and emphasizes anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare, and mine countermeasure mission sets.
"Our sailors continue executing at a high level to accomplish all tasking that is given to us, so it is great to reward them with well-deserved time off," Laboon Commander Chuck Spivey said in the release.
The Black Sea, part of the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet's area of responsibility, is a critical waterway for maritime commerce and stability in Europe and combined operations in the Black Sea are done to strengthen interoperability between NATO allies, including Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Romania.
"Laboon's visit further strengthens the strong relationship between the United States and NATO Allies and our continued operations together in support of security and stability in the 6th fleet AOR," Spivey said.
Laboon is the fifth U.S. Navy ship to visit the Black Sea this year, and its mission is focused on enhancing regional maritime stability, combined readiness, and naval capability, according to the statement.
Along with U.S. Navy ship visits, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton departed the Black Sea on May 14 following operations with Black Sea partner navies and coast guards in support of maritime security law.
The USS Laboon is deployed as part of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. The CSG supports national security interests in Europe and increasing theater cooperation and forward naval presence in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, according to the Navy.
The USS Monterey and USS Thomas Hudner were also deployed in the Black Sea to participate in Sea Shield 2021 as part of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group in March.
The Sixth Fleet is preparing for another annual naval exercise in the Black Sea, Sea Breeze 2021, cohosted by the Ukrainian navy, which starts next week.