Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sea Breeze 2010 Kicks Off in Ukraine

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Gary Keen, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

ODESSA, Ukraine (NNS) -- Sea Breeze 2010 officially kicked off with an opening ceremony and combined press conference with senior Ukrainian and U.S. naval leadership at the Ukranian Southern Operational Command in Odessa, Ukraine, July 12.

Sea Breeze is an invitational combined and joint maritime exercise in the Black Sea with the goals of enhancing Black Sea national maritime security capabilities and improving Black Sea theater security cooperation strategies.

"It is a great pleasure for me to announce the opening of exercise Sea Breeze 2010," said Ukrainian Vice Adm. Viktor Maksimov, commander-in-chief of Ukrainian naval forces, during a speech to more than 300 military and civilian members of the 12 participating countries of Sea Breeze. "In response to common threats facing the world today, this exercise will be dedicated to anti-piracy operations."

Maksimov added that Sea Breeze will utilize the experience and knowledge gained in the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Aden and welcomed members of the participating countries to Ukraine.

Sea Breeze's robust training agenda will include counter-piracy training operations, non-combatant evacuation operations and vertical, board, search and seizure training. Additionally, ground forces will conduct non-lethal weapons training designed to combat unlawful fishing, piracy, trafficking in persons, drugs and illegal weapons.

Rear Adm. Gerard P. Heuber, U.S Naval Forces Europe-Africa, director for policy, resources and strategy, thanked Maksimov and the Ukrainian Navy for hosting Sea Breeze and spoke about the importance of the exercise.

"Sea Breeze is about strengthening maritime partnerships in the Black Sea in spirit of partnership for peace and is invaluable to all participating countries because it promotes regional stability and maritime security," said Heuber.

Sea Breeze is the largest exercise this year in the Black Sea, including 20 ships, 13 aircraft and more than 1,600 military members from Azerbaijan, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and United States.

Following the ceremony a press conference was held with 57 journalists from 41 news organizations. Additionally, the opening ceremony was followed in the evening with a reception aboard USS Taylor (FFG 50).