USS Porter on Black Sea mission to work with local navies
The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter is back in the Black Sea, on its second visit there this year, officials said.
The crew is conducting unprecedented navy-to-navy exercises in what is called “trilateral” engagements between the U.S., Turkish and Georgian navies, said Capt. Bob Lally, commander of Task Force 67.
Another unusual aspect to the mission is that Lally — an aviator by trade — is leading surface warfare missions. It is the first time a commodore in charge of air operations has control of a surface ship, he said.
His presence is a matter of Naval Forces Europe tapping into its available leaders and a way to challenge sailors “to get out of their comfort zone,” Lally said in a phone interview from the ship.
“Being onboard a destroyer is a great opportunity for my staff … as well as for the surface warfare officers and crew,” said Lally, normally stationed at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily. “As a naval aviator, I might bring a different influence, a different way of doing things.”
During the Porter’s second cruise to the Black Sea, the crew will spend 18 days training with navies from Turkey, Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria. The Porter, based in Norfolk, Va., last sailed in the Black Sea in February, when it trained with Romanian and Ukrainian navies.
The participating countries are learning ways to keep supplies flowing to ships operating great distances from their shores, Lally said as an example. Other training topics include building noncommissioned officer corps and boarding suspicious vessels.
The rapid operational tempos, too, test the crew, said Lt. Cmdr. Murzban Morris, an operations staff member of CTF 67.
“We’re basically doing one thing right after another, with very little dead time in between,” he said in a statement.