USS PORTER ENTERS BLACK SEA ON DELICATE POLITICALLY SENSITIVE PRESENCE MISSION
Guided-Missile Destroyer USS Porter Has Entered The Black Sea. Weekend Port Call Made At Odessa , Ukraine
USS Porter (DDG-78) transits the Bosphorus Strait on Oct. 12, 2019. US Navy Photo
Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78) entered the Black Sea earlier this October (probably on Saturday Oct.12,2019) . We believe this information is correct and assume this deployment is part of the Navy’s ongoing presence operation in the region.
Port records indicate the PORTER moored at Odessa, Ukraine on Sunday . Local media indicates the purpose of the stop was for a port visit. We monitor U.S. Navy ship movements through the same channels we use to track merchant ships of interest, However we don't usually report specific Navy ship movements unless a movement is highly public already and of U.S news media interest. We make an exception to this general rule for this movement of the PORTER. While the movement draws little if any media attention in the United States, it simply is well known in the Black Sea region. The entry into the Black Sea was noted by Turkey and the local Odessa media reported the ship' visit. We report this movement because the national media for the most part has not, with their present fixation on events in Syria. Presence operations are an important part of the Navy's mission of maintaining our national "Sea lines of Communication". The mission usually fails to draw the media attention it should in the U.S.. It is an important mission that is very costly in terms of money , ship wear and tear, crew fatigue, and a major rationale for an increase in ship numbers. The mission and necessary increase in ship numbers needs public support.
The presence mission has drawn a little attention of late when it has involved the South China Sea because of the tension between the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard with their neighbors and virtually every ship transiting the area. China claims this very open arm of the sea as her maritime territory ignoring the claims of her neighbors to their own exclusive economic zones under the UN Law of the Sea Convention, and the long standing International law concerning innocent passage through the area including the various Exclusive Economic Zones. By contrast the Black Sea mission and other presence missions don't draw the media attention they should. Of these other presence missions the Black Sea missions are among the most complex and politicized.
US entry into the Black Sea has been limited but not forbidden for many decades. Entry is governed by a treaty of the nations bordering the Black Sea and acknowledged if not signed by the Western Powers including the United States. Our war ships are permitted to enter the area in very limited numbers and to stay for specified limited times. This wasn't a big problem until the Ukraine and Georgia achieved independence from the old Soviet Union, We now have obligations to at least these two nations that border the Black Sea. The Russians object strenuously. So far however we have been able to operate within the treaty specified numbers and limited time frames. The PORTER sails a delicate diplomatic and political sea. Watches are strained because of the political tension that may often manifest it self in shadowing and low fly overs in the old Cold War style by Russian Black Sea Forces. The treaty limits the crew's exposure to these tensions where one misinterpretation of intentions could lead to at least regional shooting. What the treaty does nothing to alleviate is the level of fatigue of crews entering the Black Sea for this mission. Navy crews are already stressed to the point that retention is affected by prolonged and frequent deployments. If we don't want fatigued and stressed crews undertaking these delicate assignments we're going to need more ships and sailors.
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