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The guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) is underway alongside the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) during underway replenishment approach training. (Source: NARA)
As tensions continue to rise in the Black Sea between Russia and Ukraine, the US must demonstrate its commitment to protecting international waters and freedom of navigation for all nations. The recent visit by the USS Nitze to Turkey’s Golcuk Naval Base serves as a reminder of American strength and support.
Background on US Warship USS Nitze and its Visit to the Region
The Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Nitze (DDG 94), was commissioned in 2009 and is part of Destroyer Squadron 26, currently based in Yokosuka, Japan. Previously, USS Nitze was sent on a routine deployment to conduct maritime security operations in the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Gulf. However, on May 16, 2021, it made a port call in Istanbul before heading toward Golcuk Naval Base. At Golcuk Naval Base, it hosted several US diplomats, including Ambassador John Bass, who also visited several other US warships in different parts of Turkey during his trip. After spending time at Golcuk Naval Base, USS Nitze departed from there on May 24, 2021, en route back to her Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF) homeport in Yokosuka, Japan, via Suez Canal.
The Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are part of the United States Navy’s Fleet Response Plan and are typically deployed for six months in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR). The AOR includes “the Western Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf, and Red Sea regions,” according to the US Navy’s website. Additionally, these warships operate with NATO forces in the Mediterranean Sea and other areas requiring “maritime security operations.”
The ships of this class are equipped with an Aegis Combat System and can perform multiple roles, including surface warfare, anti-aircraft warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and electronic warfare. Furthermore, they have advanced capabilities allowing them to receive data from external sources such as satellites or aircraft and display it on large screens within their Combat Information Centers (CIC). This capability allows them to act quickly when a threat is detected and maintain situational awareness even when out of contact with external assets. These destroyers also carry Tomahawk missiles which can be used offensively or defensively, depending on the situation.
In addition to its impressive arsenal of weapons systems and advanced technology, USS Nitze also features several amenities designed to make life easier for its crew members while out at sea. These include comfortable quarters for up to 300 personnel and recreation facilities such as a gymnasium complete with treadmills and elliptical machines. It also has an advanced galley that can feed up to 1,000 people with quality meals cooked by trained chefs. Such amenities allow crew members to relax during long deployments away from homeport without sacrificing comfort or morale.
Overall, USS Nitze is an impressive example of the US military might capable of completing any mission tasked by its commanders while still providing all necessary comforts for its crew members during prolonged deployments away from homeport. In addition, its recent visit to Turkey highlights the importance placed by US Navy in maintaining strong alliances through diplomatic channels while stationing warships abroad, especially at times when regional tensions are high.
Why is The USS Nitze’s Visit to the Black Sea Region Impactful?
The recent arrival of the USS Nitze to the Black Sea region holds considerable significance for both Turkey and the United States. This visit is an example of diplomatic strength between both allies by affirming the close strategic partnership between the two countries and safeguarding freedom of navigation in a region prone to increased tension.
From a military standpoint, a forward-deployed American vessel shows Turkey and its bordering nations that the United States Navy is prepared for whatever may arise in this volatile area. If we’re going to take a look at Rear Admiral James Macmanamon’s perspective on international alliances, this “message” has a more significant impact on the US Navy’s leadership in these most critical of times.
“The US Navy has an enormous stake in supporting and sustaining Global Maritime Partnerships (GMP), and the Surface Warfare Directorate (SEA 21) for the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), is the Navy’s principal agent for supporting our many coalition partners. We do this in numerous ways, principally by building both the capability to succeed in a multi-dimensional threat environment and the capacity to work together on the global commons,” SLDInfo notes.
The visit by USS Nitze serves as an important reminder of America’s commitment to supporting international law and peaceful cooperation throughout Europe’s eastern Mediterranean basin. The US State Department claims that the US Navy routinely operates in international waters around the world consistent with International Law and respects traditional uses of these waters, [including] freedom of navigation activities designed to maintain all nations’ rights under international law: both inside and outside customary boundaries. This statement supports NATO’s mission which emphasizes regional stability through collective defense against potential threats from neighboring states or terrorist organizations. [Read the complete report here].
Experts suggest that this deployment responds to Russia’s growing aggression towards Ukraine and other eastern European states over recent years. Since 2014, Moscow has escalated tensions within surrounding countries such as Ukraine by violating their airspace and initiating attacks on Ukrainian vessels to solidify its control over areas such as Crimea. Against this backdrop, the United States seeks to ensure that all nations have access to these shared waterways without fear of military confrontation or interference from outside powers.
Though many analysts are skeptical about its long-term effect on Russian behavior in Ukraine and other regions, there is no denying that USS Nitze’s presence provides reassurance for countries such as Turkey, which rely heavily on sea routes for trade purposes. According to the Council of Foreign Relations, “the US Navy’s dominance of the world’s oceans has made it an indispensable foreign policy tool as well as a guarantor of global trade, but a mix of challenges is raising difficult questions about its future.” This suggests that increased visits by American vessels contribute positively towards maintaining peace within Europe’s Eastern Mediterranean region.
“The traditional US goal of preventing the emergence of a regional hegemon in one part of Eurasia or another has been a major reason why the US military is structured with force elements that enable it to cross broad expanses of ocean and air space and then conduct sustained, large-scale military operations upon arrival,” says a recent report on the US Navy [PDF] by the Congressional Research Service.
Other reasons why this is quite historic:
First, it is an example of a robust strategic partnership between the United States and NATO ally Turkey, which share common interests in maintaining peace and stability in Europe’s Eastern Mediterranean region. The strong ties between the two countries are demonstrated through their frequent military exercises, such as Anatolian Eagle 21-1 held earlier this month, which included participation from Turkish Air Force F-16s and American Navy P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircrafts from Incirlik Air Base.
Second, it showcases the US Navy’s commitment to protecting international waters and freedom of navigation for all nations in the Black sea region despite increased tensions since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. Third, the presence of American warships near Russia’s borders sends a clear message that the US will remain committed to preserving regional peace and stability through collective efforts with allies like Turkey along with other European partners like Ukraine, who have been victims of Russian aggression since the 2014 war broke out.
Finally, this visit strengthens ties with local partners, allies, and friends while increasing opportunities for future collaborations between countries in the Black sea region, especially when it comes to addressing threats posed by Russian aggression against neighboring countries or any other unprovoked attacks against international waters or airspace rights anywhere around the world.
This incident reinforces the United States’ commitment to preserving regional peace and stability while promoting freedom of navigation throughout the entire world. By sending powerful messages like these, we can hope that future incidents might be avoided altogether, thus strengthening our global security relationships even further.
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