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US, 16 nations join forces for Sea Breeze 2017

July 10, 2017 (Photo Credit: MC2 Kayla Cosby/Navy)
Two U.S. ships, around 800 troops and a team of Navy SEALs will participate in the 17th rendition of Sea Breeze, an annual maritime training exercise in the Black Sea, according to a Navy release.

Sea Breeze 2017 will bring together 17 navies from around the world to Odessa, Ukraine, and is expected to last 12 days.

The cruiser Hue City and the destroyer Carney will represent the Navy, and the ships arrived in Odessa Monday morning, according to the Navy release. 

"It is critical that we continue to participate in multinational exercises such as these in order to strengthen our tactical and operational procedures when working with partner navies all around the world,” said Capt. Dan Gillen, Hue City's commanding officer.

The exercises come as tensions boil between the U.S. and Russia over the Black Sea. In response to the two-week training, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will monitor the exercises from afar, according to a Russian news agency

For the past several months, there have been incidents of Russian planes flying dangerously close to U.S. military ships and planes.

In February, an armed Russian aircraft buzzed the destroyer Porter when it was stationed in the region. A similar event happened in April when a Russian plane approached a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane over the Baltic Sea. 

The Navy, meanwhile, says that its participation in Sea Breeze 2017 is entirely focused on building and improving relationships with its allies in the region.

"We’re building strong relationships here, which are crucial to peace and stability in the region.” said Gillen.
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