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NEWS | March 15, 2021

VP-46 Coordinated Operations in the Black Sea

By VP-46 Public Affairs

Operating alongside the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Porter (DDG-78), two Turkish frigates, the TCG Orucreis (F-245) and TCG Turgutreis (F-241), and two Turkish F-16 fighters, the Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 “Grey Knights,” participated in their first joint air and maritime training mission in the Black Sea, Feb. 10.

These operations with Turkish naval forces serve to fortify the importance and unique benefit of the maritime alliance with our NATO partners.

“Opportunities to operate with U.S. and NATO forces in the Black Sea not only supports the monitoring of the international maritime domain, but also improve integrations across multiple Navies.” said Cmdr. James Imlah, deputy commander, Task Force 67, “This makes us a more prepared and effective combined fighting force.”

Since January 2021, when the USS Donald Cook entered the Black Sea along with the USS Porter, VP-46 provided direct support to their operations.

“We assisted in the exercise of freedom of navigation of both international airspace and water, and provided extended range surveillance of surface and sub-surface ships in the operational area,” stated Lt. Cmdr. Stokes, CTG-67.1 Tactical Operations Officer and Patrol Plane Commander.

VP-46, along with the DDGs, joined Turkish NATO allies for an integrated surface, air, and subsurface warfare exercise, thus strengthening U.S. security collaboration with Turkey in the Black Sea and the surrounding maritime environment.

Combat Aircrew Six simultaneously coordinated with U.S. and Turkish assets by providing an overall Common Operational Picture of the air and waterspace.  In addition, they completed a photo exercise to showcase the coordinated efforts of the warships.

Lt.j.g. Max Vaughn, VP-46 CAC-6 Tactical Coordinator, sums it up as “a smooth and coordinated effort from all players involved that produced valuable training and further strengthening NATO relations.”  

VP-46 is currently forward deployed to the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations and is assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout Europe and Africa.

Task Force 67 is composed of helicopters and land-based maritime patrol aircraft that operate throughout European and African waters in anti-submarine, search-and-rescue, reconnaissance, surveillance, and mining roles. Task Force 67′s official mission is to provide responsive, interoperable, and expeditionary combat ready maritime patrol aircraft and supporting forces to U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet.

U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.