By U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa Public Affairs
U.S. Naval Forces Europe (NAVEUR) units and personnel, including P-8A Poseidon aircraft from Commander, Task Force (CTF) 67, based in Sigonella, Italy, and personnel assigned to CTF 68, based in Rota, Spain, kicked off participation in the Bulgarian exercise Breeze in the Black Sea region, July 14, 2022.
Participating U.S. and Bulgarian personnel will work alongside allies and partners Albania, Belgium, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Turkey, and the United Kingdom in a variety of maritime warfare scenarios, all designed to enhance interoperability and demonstrate solidarity among participating nations.
Breeze is an annual exercise hosted by the Bulgarian Navy and typically takes place in the Black Sea region around Bulgaria every July. The exercise dates back to 1996, and this year marks the 26th iteration of the exercise. The exercise highlights allies and partners’ commitment to improving their combined capability and capacity in the Black Sea region.
“Exercising with our NATO allies and partners is essential to ensuring security in the Black Sea region,” said Rear Adm. Oliver Lewis, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Director of Maritime Operations (DMO). “The ironclad commitment of the U.S. to NATO extends to every domain and in particular to the global maritime commons that the world relies upon for the safe transportation of food, energy, and commerce.”
Breeze 2022, which takes places in and around Burgas and Varna, Bulgaria over the next two weeks, will emphasize anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasure, search and rescue, force protection/anti-terrorism operations, maritime interdiction operations, and anti-piracy mission areas, among other mission sets and warfare areas. The U.S. contingent is well-equipped to support allies and partners in each of these mission areas.
P-8A Poseidon aircraft from U.S. Sixth Fleet’s Task Force 67 will provide maritime domain awareness in the region and will participate in multiple exercise serials. The P-8A is the U.S. Navy's multi-mission maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft and its crew efficiently conduct anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and humanitarian response
Expeditionary units from Task Force 68, including Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 12, are also scheduled to train alongside their counterparts in a variety of exercise events. These include mine response, remote-operated vehicle searching techniques, limpet response and handheld SONAR search, underwater searching techniques, and underwater ordnance reconnaissance.
“I am excited for the opportunity to improve our readiness and interoperability during Exercise Breeze,” said Capt. Cameron Chen, Commander, Task Force 68. “Bulgaria has an incredibly professional military and we look forward to the knowledge and experience we will gain from working alongside the Bulgarians and our NATO partners in the Black Sea.”
For over 80 years, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) has forged strategic relationships with allies and partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. U.S. Sixth Fleet is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF, and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.