Destroyer USS Truxtun heads for Black Sea amid heightened tensions over Crimea
By STEVEN BEARDSLEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 6, 2014
NAPLES, Italy — A U.S. guided-missile destroyer is bound for the Black Sea in what the Navy calls a routine visit unrelated to events in Ukraine.
The USS Truxtun, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer with about 300 sailors on board, departed Greece early Thursday, said a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa in Naples.
The ship is scheduled to train with Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces for an unspecified period of time, conducting joint maneuvers and landing aircraft on ships. The spokesman, Lt. Shawn Eklund, said the visit is unrelated to Russia’s recent incursion into Ukraine.
“Truxtun’s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the U.S.,” he said.
The Truxtun is part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, which recently entered the Mediterranean and is training with regional navies before continuing to the Middle East. The group also includes Carrier Air Wing 8, the destroyer USS Roosevelt and the cruiser USS Philippine Sea.
The destroyer will join the USS Taylor as the only two U.S. vessels inside the Black Sea during a period of heightened tensions. The Taylor, a guided-missile frigate, remains moored in Samsun, Turkey, after it ran aground in February.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is at the center of the country’s operations in Ukraine, where Russian soldiers continue to surround Ukrainian military bases.
Other U.S. warships remain in the region on scheduled deployments. A group of amphibious ships with an embarked Marine expeditionary unit also recently entered European waters. The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, which counts roughly 4,000 sailors and Marines, is training with regional navies before continuing to the Middle East.