Office of External Relations
February 12, 2021

FEB. 11, 2021 / 2:42 PM
USS Donald Cook wraps Black Sea operations

 The Turkish navy Yavuz-class TCG Turgutreis, left, and the Turkish navy Barbaros-class frigate TCG Orucreis, center, prepare to conduct a passing exercise with the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea Tuesday. Photo by Will Hardy/U.S. Navy
[Since I sent out FOUN reports on the USS Donald Cook returning to the Black Sea for maneuvers and its being joined by the USS Porter and its being buzzed by a Russian fighter I send this along. RAM]
Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The USS Donald Cook concluded its Black Sea operations this week, the Navy said.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer transited to the Mediterranean Sea Wednesday after conducting presence operations in the Black Sea that started in late January.

Earlier this week the Cook and the USS Porter, as well as a P-8A reconnaissance plane, participated in a joint Navy exercise with the Turkish vessels TCG Orucreis and TCG Turgutreis and two F-16 fighter planes from Turkey's air force.

According to the Navy, the Cook made a port visit to Batumi, Georgia, last week.

Formally-dressed sailors were greeted by counterparts from the Georgian Coast Guard in a formal arrival ceremony before Cmdr. Matthew Curnen, Donald Cook's commanding officer, participated in a virtual meet and greet with senior officers from the Georgian Coast Guard, as well as Kelly Degnan, the U.S. ambassador to Georgia.

"We enjoyed an extremely warm welcome in Batumi, and then gained valuable tactical experience by practicing with our Turkish counterparts. I'm glad that even in the COVID era, we are able to work with partners to increase our collective readiness," Curnen said.
The Porter left its home port of Rota, Spain, in January to conduct routine maritime security operations in the Black Sea.

On Jan. 30, a Russian fighter jet conducted a low pass over the vessel in international waters. [Earlier reports used the word "buzzed". RAM]

The incident didn't prompt any formal complaints from the United States, but U.S. officials have criticized other recent Russian fighter plane activity in the area, such as Russia's interception of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber last August.

[I do note that in response to an earlier FOUN email reporting the Russian fighter “buzzing” the USS Donald Cook several people commented essentially that we do the same thing to the Russians. I did not think that was true and have checked. We – the United States – do monitor we do not buzz and our monitoring is done by intelligence platforms, not fighter aircraft. RAM]

The parenthetical comments above are those of Mr. McConnell and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN).

Bob McConnell
Coordinator, External Relations
U.S.-Ukraine Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network

Robert A. McConnell is a co-founder of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation and Coordinator of External Relations for the Foundation’s Friends of Ukraine Network. He is Principal of R.A. McConnell and Associates. Previously, he has served as head of the Government Advocacy Practice at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Vice President – Washington for CBS, Inc, and Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice during the Reagan Administration.
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