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Sea Breeze players complete the Black Sea exercise, the first series since the war

MERSIN, Turkey – The multinational naval exercise Sea Breeze – held for the first time since Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine – prioritized ensuring freedom of navigation and countering explosives such as sea mines.

The latest version, called Sea Breeze 2023-3, took place in the Black Sea, bordered by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Georgia. The entire exercise is divided into three parts.

The third event, which took place from September 11 to 15, brought together the United States, Bulgaria, France, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom for exercises. The U.S. and Romanian navies co-hosted the exercise.

“The exercise, now in its 22nd edition, has been conducted annually since 1997, with the exception of five separate years when operational commitments or world events prevented the exercise from being conducted,” according to a U.S. Navy news release.

Due to the regulations of the Montreux Convention, non-riparian states could not send naval vessels. Under the Montreux Convention, Turkey manages the movements of commercial and military ships in and out of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The country has carefully implemented the agreement, which is a crucial part of the security and stability of the Black Sea, for more than 70 years since 1936. Although the Convention regulates the transit regime across the straits, its most important aspect is to define the principles of military ships transiting the straits and deployed to the Black Sea.

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“It is very important that the Sea Breeze exercise, which could not take place last year, was held this year at a time when war was going on in the region and the main themes of the exercise were freedom of navigation and mine clearance goods. the seas,” Yörük Işık, an independent Turkish open-source intelligence and naval analyst, told Defense News. “There is a message for Russia here.”

Vice Admiral Ioan Georgescu of the Romanian Navy led the exercises. The service brought the most ships to the exercise with its Musca-class mine countermeasures ship Sublocotenent Alexandru Axente, the fast dive support ship Venus, the Brutar II-class armored boat Posada, three amphibious armored personnel carriers and several assault boats.

“The main objectives of Sea Breeze 2023 are to improve interoperability and increase the level of training of the participating armed forces, focusing on mine countermeasures with the support of the diving and Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) teams of the participating countries and a US Navy P-8 Poseidon. aircraft,” Romanian Navy Capt. Adrian Dinca, chief of staff of the Romanian Maritime Component Command, said in the U.S. Navy news release.

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During the second part of Sea Breeze, held in Constanta from September 5 to 6, the US Navy deployed, among others, the explosive ordnance disposal and mine countermeasures divisions of Task Force 68 and a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. This second part included a conference of fleet commanders, focusing on the current maritime situation in the Black Sea.

“The expansion of the Sea Breeze exercise into a three-part series demonstrates our ability to train together across the European theatre, in a wide range of environments, to ensure we are ready and prepared for any challenges we may face as we continue to strive to maintain a safe maritime environment,” Task Force 68 Commodore Capt. Geoffrey Townsend said in the news release.

The Bulgarian Defense Ministry said its participation in the exercise included a Remus 100 unmanned underwater vehicle and associated personnel.

Turkey sent only military personnel to the exercise, according to Turkish Navy sources who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

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France, Britain and Ukraine did not respond to requests for information about their participation.

Notably, the exercise took place as Ukraine declared that it had regained control of oil rigs near where the exercise took place, Işık said.

Also during the exercises, Ukraine attacked the Russian base in Sevastopol in Crimea with cruise missiles. Russia has controlled the area since annexing it in 2014 – a move largely unrecognized by the international community.

This is reported by the British Ministry of Defensethe September 13 attack “almost certainly” functionally destroyed the Minsk landing ship, and the Kilo 636.3-class submarine Rostov-na-Donu “probably suffered catastrophic damage.”

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