American missile cruiser set to arrive in Black Sea

American missile cruiser set to arrive in Black Sea
Thu May 29, 2014 21:51:48

The guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf will enter the Black Sea on Friday and dock at the Bulgarian port of Varna.

The ship’s deployment is part of the United States’ efforts to improve interoperability of its forces with its NATO allies and maintain stability in the Black Sea Region.

The United States has increased its presence in the Black Sea in recent months in an effort to reassure allies following recent events in Ukraine.

The frigate USS Taylor, which left the Black Sea on March 12, was the last US ship in the region.

This comes as part of a wider buildup of NATO forces close to Russian borders against the backdrop of the Ukraine crisis.

The American Aegis guided missile cruiser will be in the Black Sea in time for the Ukrainian presidential elections on May 25, a military-diplomatic source told Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency earlier on Monday.

“It is expected that Vella Gulf will pass through the Black Sea straits on May 23. According to available data, the ship will be performing the tasks of US Navy command in the eastern part of the Black Sea,” the source said.

Another NATO vessel – a French stealth frigate, The Surcouf – is expected to enter the Black Sea between May 28 and May 29, reports RIA Novosti, also citing a military-diplomatic source.

Vella Gulf and The Surcouf will join the French Navy's intelligence ship, Dupuy de Lome, which is currently in the waters off Bulgaria’s port city of Varna. The vessel, designed for radar monitoring and capable of intercepting communications, including phone calls and e-mails, entered the Black Sea on May 14.

Dupuy de Lome had also been present in the area from April 11 to April 30, a Russian Navy Main Staff spokesman told Interfax last week.

The US ship Vella Gulf is 172 meters long and 16 meters wide and can carry two multipurpose helicopters. It is also equipped with an Aegis air and ballistic missile defensive system, Tomahawk cruise missiles, antisubmarine missiles, as well as Standard-2 and Standard-3 surface-to-air missiles.


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