By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs
U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 2, Underwater Construction Team (UCT) 1, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8 along with divers from Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, Latvia, and Canada participated in an interoperability diving event and training mission to strengthen their capabilities during exercise Sea Breeze 2021 (SB21) in Odesa, Ukraine, June 28 - July 10.
For SB21, the divers conducted 8 serials and training events in Odesa Harbor, including salvage, harbor survey, bottom search, and pier search. Divers accumulated over 80 hours working underwater during the diving operation events with partners.
“Exercise Sea Breeze is a tangible example of how the United States stands beside Ukraine on the front lines of Russian aggression,” said Col. Brittany Stewart, U.S. Embassy Kyiv Defense Attaché. “This exercise demonstrates Ukraine's growing maritime security relationship with the United States and the 32 other participating Allies and partners.”
SB21 provides the opportunity for personnel of participating nations to engage in realistic maritime training to build experience and teamwork and strengthen our interoperability as we work toward mutual goals.
“U.S. Navy Dive and EOD teams from CTF 68 conducted training and interoperability events with Canada, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine to ensure a safe and stable Black Sea region,” said Lt. Cmdr. Philip Westbrook, representative from commander Task Force 68. “I couldn’t be happier with the work done here and the support given from our Ukrainian hosts for Seabreeze 21.”
Beginning in 1997, Exercise Sea Breeze brings most Black Sea nations and NATO Allies and partners together to train and operate with NATO members in the pursuit of building increased capability.
“Integration between Ukraine and the other supporting nations was a success during Exercise Sea Breeze 21.” said CWO2 Beau Lontine, Company Commander MDSU TWO. “Building these partnerships and learning how to improve on our techniques, tactics and procurement from one another will ensure our operational success in the future.”
Training like this improves the interoperability between the U.S. and partner nations by exchanging best practices.
“Exercise Sea Breeze 21 was a tremendous opportunity for U.S. Navy divers from MDSU2, UCT1, and EODMU8 to work together with our partner nations to train and operate in the Black Sea, building lasting relationships in support of a global partnership for peace,” said Lt. Cmdr. Taylor South, MDSU 2 Salvage Engineer
SB21 is taking place from June 28 to July 10 in the Black Sea region and focuses on multiple warfare areas including diving operations, maritime interdiction operations, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, damage control, and search and rescue operations.
Ukraine and the U.S. are co-hosting the exercise in the Black Sea with participation and support coming from NATO allies and partners from around the globe.
U.S. participation includes the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71), a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, U.S. Marines from 2D Marine Division and 2ND Marine Logistics Group, Navy Underwater Construction Team UCT-1B, and members of the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and U.S. Sixth Fleet staff.
MDSU 2 and UCT 1 are subordinate commands of the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force. MDSU 2 executes salvage and harbor clearance operations, and UCT 1 executes construction and engineering projects under Navy Expeditionary Combat Force Europe and Africa/Task Force 68 (NECFEURAF/TF 68).
MDSU and UCT are specially trained and equipped units within the Navy Expeditionary Combat Force to conduct underwater missions to 300 feet of seawater. MDSU conducts battle damage repair, salvage operations, harbor clearance, underwater search and survey; UCT constructs, inspects, repairs, and maintains ports, ocean facilities, underwater systems, and general maritime infrastructure. MDSU and UCT are key components of port damage repair operations during a disaster or contingency.
Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 is an annual multinational maritime exercise, involving sea, land, and air components, and is co-hosted by the United States and Ukraine to enhance interoperability and capability among participating forces in the Black Sea region.
U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with joint, allied, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.