By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Detachment Europe
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (NNS) -- The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) departed the Black Sea after a series of engagements promoting peace and stability in the region, Aug. 26.
While in the Black Sea, Vella Gulf's mission was to work with NATO allies and partners, demonstrating the United States' commitment to strengthening and improving interoperability while working toward mutual goals in the region.
"Our Black Sea operations were excellent training opportunities for Vella Gulf to work with our maritime partners, and we enjoyed our port visits to Romania and Georgia," said Capt. Robert Katz, Vella Gulf's commanding officer. "Being afforded the opportunity to work together with our partners helps build greater maritime domain awareness in the Black Sea. We look forward to fostering these relationships in the future."
Upon entering the Black Sea for the second time this deployment, Vella Gulf completed a divisional tactics exercise with the Turkish navy, Aug 8.
Vella Gulf made port visits to Constanta, Romania and Batumi, Georgia.
In Romania, Vella Gulf Sailors were treated to a barbeque hosted by the Romanian chapter of the Navy League, and participated in Romanian Navy Day.
In Batumi, Georgia, Vella Gulf hosted distinguished guests including Prime Minister of the Republic of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, Georgian Minister of Defense, Iraklii Alasania, and U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland.
Vella Gulf participated in joint training exercises with the Georgian Coast Guard focusing on visit, board, search and seizure tactics, damage control, and NATO flag signaling.
The port visit to Batumi culminated in a flag signaling exercise with the Georgian navy upon the ship's departure.
Back in the Mediterranean, Vella Gulf is scheduled to finish her deployment after two patrols in the Black Sea.
Vella Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is deployed in a multi-mission role in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to contribute to regional maritime security, conduct bilateral and multilateral training missions, and to support NATO operations and deployments throughout the region.
U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full range of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation missions in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners in order to advance security and stability in Europe and Africa.