With the Russian buildup of forces in Crimea continuing unabated, the internet has been filled with reported sightings of US naval vessels heading into the Black Sea, most recently the USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier which, in reality, was merely heading to the Greek port of Piraeus for a long-scheduled port call.
The latest addition to this internet buzz was reports that Turkey had given the US navy permission for a warship to sail through the Bosphorus, the narrow straight that connects the Eastern Mediterranean with the Black Sea.
According to the US military, however, that report is also a bit less exciting than some of the breathless online accounts. This morning, the US European Command, the American headquarters that oversees the US navy’s Italy-based Sixth Fleet, said that the USS Truxtun, a guided-missile destroyer, had departed its home port of Souda Bay in Greece for naval exercises in the Black Sea with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies.
The Truxtun, which has 300 sailors onboard, is part of the USS George HW Bush’s carrier group, and its deployment may sound ominous with the Russian buildup just up the shoreline, but US military officials said the exercises have been months in the planning and has nothing to do with the standoff in Crimea.
“Truxtun’s visit to the Black Sea is routine, scheduled well in advance, and is not associated with, or a reaction to, any real world events,” the US military said.
So to all you ship-spotters: nothing to see here. Back to work.