A flotilla of warships from Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2 have sailed into the Black Sea in what the NATO naval command describes as part of an ongoing effort to enhance regional stability and a sign of support for NATO member-states.
The group is led by British guided missile destroyer HMS Duncan. The group also includes Spanish Navy frigate SPS Victoria, Turkish Navy frigate TCG Gemlik, German Navy frigate FGS Bayern, as well as several smaller ships.
NATO’s naval activity in the Black Sea has intensified since the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 and the subsequent reunification of Crimea with Russia.
On February 10, three NATO warships arrived in Varna, Bulgaria, as part of their routine Black Sea patrol.
Standing #NATO Maritime Group 2 entered the #BlackSea yesterday and welcomed two new members to the group — 🇷🇴Romanian Frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand and 🇧🇬Bulgarian frigate BGS Drazki | #WelcomeAboard pic.twitter.com/XHs8viZhwh— NATO MaritimeCommand (@NATO_MARCOM) 2 мая 2018 г.
Led by Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan, SNMG2 comprised of Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand.
After departing from Varna, the Group conducted drills with the Bulgarian Navy.
On January 5, the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney equipped with the Aegis missile defense system and dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles entered the region to "conduct maritime security operations and enhance regional maritime stability, as well as strengthen combined readiness and naval capability among NATO allies and partners," according to the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa's official website.
This was not the Carney's first visit to the Black Sea, as it was also deployed to the region in July 2017 for the joint military exercises "Sea Breeze 2017" with the Ukrainian navy, and again in October 2016.
Also in July 2017, the US Naval Construction Battalions launched the construction of a maritime operations center at Ukraine’s Ochakiv Naval Base.