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USS Ross arrives for Black Sea exercise as USS Laboon departs

USS Ross arrives for Black Sea exercise as USS Laboon departs
The Romanian Navy frigate ROS Marasesti R, sails with the USS Laboon during a passing and communication exercise in the Black Sea this week, before the U.S. ship departed the area and the USS Ross arrived. Photo by MCS Jeremy Boan/U.S. 6th Fleet

June 25 (UPI) -- The guided missile destroyer USS Ross traveled to the Black Sea on Friday to participate in Exercise Sea Breeze, as the USS Laboon departed.

The Ross entered the international strait from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, sailing north to join the multinational exercise, the U.S. Navy said on Friday in a statement.

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The Laboon, also a guided missile destroyer, traveled south after conducting Black Sea operations with NATO allies beginning on June 11.

While in the Black Sea, the Laboon participated in passing and communication exercises with the destroyer HMS Defender of the British Royal Navy, the frigate HNLMS Evertsen of the Royal Netherlands, the Romanian Navy frigate ROS Marasesti and the Turkish Navy frigate TCG Yildirim, the Navy statement said.

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The Laboon also stopped in Constanta, Romania, for a scheduled three-day port visit.

"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," said Cmdr. Chuck Spivey, Laboon's commanding officer, on Tuesday.

"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 [Area of Responsibility]," Spivey said.

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The 12-day Sea Breeze 2021 exercise, which starts on Monday, involves over 5,000 troops, 32 ships and 40 aircraft from 32 NATO countries and partners in the Black Sea. Cohosted by the Ukrainian Navy and the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet, the event has been held annually since 1997.

"The United States is proud to partner with Ukraine in co-hosting the multinational maritime exercise Sea Breeze, which will help enhance interoperability and capabilities among participating nations," said Chargé d'affaires Kristina Kvien, U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, in a 6th Fleet statement this week.

"We are committed to maintaining the safety and security of the Black Sea," Kvien said.

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