THE BEAR IS NOT PLEASED
|USS MOUNT WHITNEY FLAG SHIP OF THE SIXTH FLEET, PHOTO USN
USS PORTER U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Gearhiser
Two U.S. Navy ships have entered the Black Sea in response to a Ukraine led international exercise. The Bear is not happy. The command and control ship USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC-20) and the guided missile destroyer USS PORTER (DD-78) have joined other NATO naval vessels and the Ukraine Navy in an exercise in joint operations. The black sea is important to Russia ("the Bear") for a variety of reasons one of which is that sea contains their only ice free port giving access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic beyond. Why just two ships? An international treaty limits the number of naval craft of any nation without a Black Sea coast that may be in the sea at any given time. No such limitations apply to those with a Black Sea coast such as Russia, Georgia, Turkey, or Ukraine, so of course the Bear is big naval force in the highly compact sea. But when a bunch of non Black Sea coastal states each provide ships in numbers under the treaty limit coordinating with a Black Sea coastal state such as the Ukraine the Bear is forced to look at a naval force that may well be quite superior in power to their existing Black Sea Fleet. The treaty that limits the number of non coastal state war ships at any given time also imposes a time limit on their presence so such exercises tend to be short in duration. However nothing stops the naval forces of the Ukraine or Georgia from exiting the Black sea and entering the Mediterranean Sea to exercise regularly with NATO naval forces. These admittedly short and simple exercises in the Black Sea simply demonstrate to the Bear the interoperability of their former vassal states navies with the NATO fleets. The gate way to the Black sea is through the straits of the Bosporus , which is completely within the territory of Turkey, presently a NATO member state. Any Russian observer would have to notice that despite all of the US main stream media coverage of Russian power in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea off of Syria, NATO forces could annihilate the Russian naval forces in these areas at will. Provocative Russian demonstrations of naval power in these areas are meant to play to the Western media. Western exercises in these areas are to simply practice and demonstrate the the naval skills necessary to make very short work of the Russian fleets if they ever present a real and present danger. If such a battle ever broke out the Russian Atlantic fleet not already at sea would be locked up in ports with outlets to the Atlantic that are not ice free and must run through NATO controlled narrow seas. The Bear has some unimpeded access to the sea on their Pacific coast but those units could not force access into the Mediterranean Basin if hostilities broke out. If the West continues to fund its naval forces it has nothing to fear from a swimming bear. The Dragon on the other hand has more limited goals and dominates the anticipated battle space. But with proper planning a naval war with the Dragon could be like shooting fish in a barrel.