The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) hosted the opening ceremony of Exercise Sea Breaze 2014, a multinational maritime exercise in the Black Sea, Sept 8.

The exercise is scheduled to take place, Sept. 8-10, with naval forces from Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, Turkey, Latvia, and the U.S., as well as three ships from Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU.02), the Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS Toronto (FFH 333), Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand.

“I believe exercise Sea Breeze will be the next step in increasing stability and building relationships and understanding with all of the participating nations and will be the hope for the future,” said Vice Adm. Serhiy Hayduk, Commander in Chief Ukrainian Navy.

Working together in order to strengthen interoperability, participants will focus on maritime interdiction operations as a primary means to enhance maritime security. Other key components of the exercise will focus on communcations, seach and rescue, force protection and navigation.

“We will remain focused on improving interoperability while promoting regional stability and maritime security; strengthening international military partnering; and fostering trust among our partners and allies,” said Captain James Aiken, exercise director.

This is the first time that the Ross has participated in Sea Breeze, with this year’s exercise being the 17th iteration of what is considered the largest annual multinational maritime exercise held in the Black Sea.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Cmdr. Tadd Gorman, commanding officer of the USS Ross. “We’re looking forward to some excellent training and the chance to interact with our NATO allies and partners.”

Gorman says the Ross plans to actively participate in the entire spectrum of surface, air, and sub-surface evolutions during this exercise. These events, he said, will challenge the crew of Ross in their capabilities and level of knowledge.

“Anytime you exercise with warships of other countries, and deal with language barriers, you’re going to be challenged,” Gorman said. “That’s the point of this exercise; overcoming these challenges and working together to become a team.”

Ross, forward deployed to Rota, Spain, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.