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Sea Breeze 2007, the largest multinational naval exercise in the Black Sea, kicks off Monday in Odessa, Ukraine.

The exercise was canceled last year after a U.S. ship, slated to participate in the exercise, was rerouted when war broke out between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

The U.S. Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Barry bowed out of the 2006 exercise to be an escort ship for the evacuation of U.S. citizens from Lebanon. Without the U.S. destroyer’s participation, the entire Sea Breeze 2006 was canceled.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook, whose home port is Norfolk, Va., will be the U.S. Navy’s participating ship this year.

Personnel include staff from Sixth Fleet, out of Naples, Italy; Marines from Los Alamitos and Encino, Calif.; and sailors from San Diego.

Sea and land forces from 13 nations will contribute assets and personnel to the two-week exercise, according to a Naval Forces Europe-6th Fleet news release. The countries include Ukraine, which is hosting the exercise, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Turkey, and the United States, the release stated.

Goals include developing better information-sharing practices, search-and-rescue operations, live-fire exercises, and maritime security activities, the release states. Ground forces will conduct nonlethal weapons and tactics training.

“During this exercise, sailors will literally stand on the decks of partner ships while they are under way and become familiar with the other navies’ operating procedures and practices,” U.S. Navy Capt. Chip Walter, exercise deputy commander, said in a statement.

“When they meet in the future to conduct combined peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, or to counter trafficking in drugs, weapons, or persons in this region, they will be better able to work together,” Walter said.


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