Exercise Sea Breeze 2019 (SB19) ended with a closing ceremony in Odesa Ukraine, July 12, 2019, after two weeks of intense, multinational training.
Sea Breeze’s 19th iteration began July 1 and was designed to enhance interoperability among participating nations and strengthen regional security by focusing on a variety of security and stability scenarios in the areas of land, sea and air.
At the ceremony, U.S. Navy Capt. Matthew Lehman, commodore, Task Force 65 and U.S. exercise director for SB19, said that he was proud of the work and training during the exercise, but countries must remain focused because work continues.
“Today exercise Sea Breeze 2019 is over, but the work for exercise Sea Breeze 2020 starts tomorrow,” said Lehman.
During SB19, more than 3,000 participants trained in areas including maritime interdiction operations, air defense, special forces training, anti-submarine warfare, damage control tactics, search and rescue and amphibious warfare. Those same participants spent more than 200 hours underwater conducting dive training and more than 200 in the air conducting air component training.
On July 7, SB19 participating nations were given the opportunity to celebrate Navy Day in Ukraine, a national holiday that celebrates the founding of the Ukrainian Navy. Service members from participating countries gave tours of their respective ships and equipment, and interacted with Ukrainian residents.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the event. While there, he presented medals to Ukrainian service members, toured foreign ships and attended several meetings and a briefing on SB19 with Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet.
“It’s a pleasure for members of the U.S. Navy to have the opportunity to work alongside Ukrainian sailors and friends from other nations,” said Franchetti during remarks later that day.
Many of the exercise’s 32 ships also participated in a final photo exercise July 11, where participating ships came together in a formation to conclude the sea component of the exercise.
“Yesterday, along with Capt. Lehman, we watched our photo exercise at sea,” said Ukrainian Rear Adm. Alexey Neizhpapa, the exercise director for Ukraine, speaking on the scope of the formation of ships.
Neizhpapa said seeing the crews of three continents participating in the Black Sea was something that really brought into perspective the vastness of the Ukraine and U.S. cohosted exercise.
Countries from those continents included Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
U.S. participation included the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), the expeditionary fast-transport ship USNS Yuma (T-EPF 8), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, U.S. Marines from Marine Rotational Force-Europe; Navy Underwater Construction Team UCT-1B, and members of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. 6th Fleet staff.
U.S. 6th Fleet conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests, security and stability in Europe and Africa.