The U.S. Navy has reported that the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) began its international transit south en route to the Mediterranean Sea after conducting maritime security operations on the Black Sea to improve regional maritime stability. and naval capability with NATO allies and partners in the region.
Donald Cook entered the Black Sea on November 23, 2020 and conducted air defense exercises with NATO Air Command. A U.S. P-8A, Canadian CF-188, and NATO E3A-AWACS were among the participants in the joint integrated aviation mission that promoted NATO interoperability.
“Our visit to the Black Sea has improved our relations with NATO allies and other partners in the region,” said Commander Dr. Kelley Jones, commanding officer of Donald Cook. “We are particularly grateful for the Bulgarian hospitality that we experienced in Varna.”
The crew attended a Thanksgiving celebration on the pier during a brief refueling stop in Varna, Bulgaria.
Donald Cook is the seventh ship in the U.S. Navy to visit the Black Sea since early 2020.
“Our navy will sail where and whenever international law allows to protect the rights and freedoms of our common sea routes,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), on Twitter. “Sail safely, USS Donald Cook crew.”
The Black Sea is an important waterway for maritime trade and stability across Europe. The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea to work with our NATO allies and partners, including Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, and Ukraine. It is in the best interests of the world to maintain a stable, prosperous Black Sea region and deter aggressive actors who seek destabilization for their own benefit.
Donald Cook recently began his 11th patrol in the US Sixth Fleet in support of US national security interests in Europe and Africa. The ship’s operations in the Black Sea enhance interoperability between NATO allies and partners and demonstrate the collective determination to keep the Black Sea safe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Four U.S. Navy destroyers, including Donald Cook, are stationed in Rota, Spain, assigned to Commander, Task Force 65, in support of NATO’s integrated air defense architecture. These forward-facing ships of Naval Forces-Europe have the flexibility to operate in the waters of Europe and Africa from the Cape of Good Hope to the Arctic Circle to demonstrate their mastery of the maritime domain.
The U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and maritime operations, often in collaboration with allied and interacting partners to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.