The US Navy has confirmed that a guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, is heading to the Black Sea, for what the US military said is a “routine” deployment, decided long before the crisis in Ukraine, which has divided world powers.
The US Navy said in a statement that the USS Truxton left Greece on Thursday on the way to the Black Sea and was going to conduct training with the Romanian and Bulgarian navy.
“While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region,” The US Navy said in statement.
“Truxton’s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States,” the statement added.
The ship has a crew of about 300 and is part of an aircraft carrier strike group that left the US in mid-February.
The announcement comes after Turkish authorities confirmed on Wednesday they had given permission to a US navy warship to pass through the Bosphorus Straights, which is the only entrance to the Black Sea, it was reported in the Hurriyet Daily News.
However, Turkish sources told the Hurriyet Daily News that the ship in question was not the nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, as was suggested in some news reports. The USS George Bush is too heavy in terms of tonnage to meet the standards of the Montreaux Convention, which governs what can and can’t access the Black Sea.
The Pentagon also said on Wednesday that US fighter jets would join NATO patrols on missions in the Baltic countries, which include Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
On Sunday the Tass news agency reported that the guided missile frigate USS Taylor, which had been assigned to the Black Sea for the Sochi Winter Olympics, was still in the Turkish port of Samsun for repairs, after running aground on February 12.
Two Russian navy ships also entered the Black Sea through the Bosphorus on Tuesday, as well as a Ukrainian navy vessel which was heading for Odessa and not the Crimea.