NEWS | July 11, 2019

Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet on Exercise Sea Breeze

By Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti

From July 1 through today, maritime, land, and air forces from 19 nations participated in the 19th iteration of Exercise Sea Breeze in the Black Sea and across the sovereign nation of Ukraine. It was amazing to see 19 independent nations, with a shared commitment to regional stability, coming together for two weeks of intense maritime, amphibious, land, and air training. This exercise also happened to coincide with the Ukraine Navy Day celebration and I had the distinct privilege to meet with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Vice Adm. Ihor Voronchenko, the head of the Ukraine Navy, and the opportunity to review their fleet during my travel to Odesa this week.


Exercise Sea Breeze provided a myriad of unique training opportunities that demonstrated the high level of cooperation between the U.S. and our regional Allies and partners to ensure mission readiness and interoperability in the Black Sea region. Since its inception in 1997, Sea Breeze, an eventm co-sponsored by the U.S. and Ukraine, focuses on multiple warfare areas including maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, search and rescue, and amphibious operations. These areas of focus provide all participants with opportunities to increase their warfighting capability and improve interoperability while working together. Inclusiveness is the key to the success in this well-established annual exercise.

In this theater, we view threats from a 360-degree perspective and work hard to have staffs and forces trained and ready to operate effectively on all of NATO's maritime flanks. Our agility and lethality in the maritime are most important in these areas. Major exercises Trident Juncture in 2018, Formidable Shield in May, BALTOPS just last month, and now Sea Breeze reaffirm and reinforce U.S. and Allied commitment to regional maritime security and collective self-defense.

In this era of great power competition, our naval forces are committed to the principle of credible deterrence. We will continue to focus on partner engagement and on developing our joint capabilities, so we consistently send a clear message to any actors looking to disrupt the world order and violate international laws and norms. Our shared commitment with our NATO Allies and partners is unwavering: to maintain a free and open international order where the international rule of law is respected, adhered to, and enforced - where peace, stability, and prosperity thrive.

Deterring aggression on the part of any state or non-state actor is part of my focus as the Commander of U.S. 6th Fleet. One of my core responsibilities as an operational commander is to continue military cooperation and collaboration in the region in order to meet our mutual goals of a secure, stable maritime environment. This is especially true in the Black Sea region, where Russian malign influence is not only evident but prevalent. U.S. Naval Forces Europe, the NATO alliance, and our partners in the Black Sea region are committed to continually enhancing interoperability in order to promote security and stability. There is no better way to do this than exercising together at sea in multilateral exercises like Sea Breeze.