The U.S. Navy has reported that Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) began its south-bound international strait transit en route to the Mediterranean Sea after conducting Black Sea maritime security operations enhancing regional maritime stability, combined readiness, and naval capability with NATO allies and partners in the region.
Donald Cook entered the Black Sea on Nov. 23, 2020, and conducted air defense exercises with NATO Air Command. A U.S. P-8A, Canadian CF-188s, and a NATO E3A AWACS were among the participants of the joint air maritime integrated mission, which fostered NATO interoperability.
“Our Black Sea visit enhanced our relationships with NATO allies and other partners in the region,” said Cmdr. Kelley Jones, commanding officer of Donald Cook. “We are especially grateful for the Bulgarian hospitality we experienced in Varna.”
The crew partook in a Thanksgiving celebration on the pier during a brief stop for fuel in Varna, Bulgaria.
Donald Cook is the seventh U.S. Navy ship to visit the Black Sea since the beginning of 2020.
“Our Navy will sail wherever/whenever international law allows to protect the rights and freedoms of our shared seaways,” said Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Adm. Mike Gilday in Twitter. “Sail safe, USS Donald Cook crew.”
The Black Sea is a critical waterway for maritime commerce and stability throughout Europe. The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea to work with our NATO Allies and partners, including Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. It is in the world’s best interest to maintain a stable, prosperous Black Sea region and deter aggressive actors who seek destabilization for their own gain.
Donald Cook recently began its 11th patrol in U.S. Sixth Fleet in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa.The ship’s operations in the Black Sea strengthens interoperability among NATO allies and partners and demonstrate collective resolve to Black Sea security under Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Four U.S. Navy destroyers, including Donald Cook, are based in Rota, Spain, and assigned to Commander, Task Force 65 in support of NATO’s Integrated Air Missile Defense architecture. These Forward-Deployed Naval Forces-Europe ships have the flexibility to operate throughout the waters of Europe and Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle, demonstrating their mastery of the maritime domain.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.