Don’t Poke the Bear: Russian Frigate Conducts Drills as US Warships Beef Up Black Sea Deployment
15:59 GMT 07.11.2021 (Updated: 17:32 GMT 07.11.2021)
The USS Mount Whitney amphibious command ship, flagship of the US Sixth Fleet, entered the Black Sea on Thursday, joining the USS Porter, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer already present in the area on a “routine patrol.” The Russian Navy has confirmed that it's tracking the warships throughout their deployment.
Russia’s Admiral Essen frigate has conducted drills simulating a response to an enemy aerial attack, the press service of the Black Sea Fleet has announced.
“According to the scenario for the exercises, the Black Sea Fleet’s control centre received information about the takeoff of a group of ‘enemy’ aircraft in the direction of the Crimean Peninsula. During the drills, the frigate’s air defence crew acquired the targets and destroyed them using anti-aircraft missiles,” the fleet’s press service said in a statement.
The statement clarified that "enemy" targets were simulated electronically via the ship’s onboard weapon control systems, and destroyed before the aircraft could reach striking distance.
The Admiral Essen returned to the Black Sea late last month after a three-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea. An Admiral Grigorovich-class Russian frigate, possibly the Admiral Essen, was spotted Friday shadowing the USS Mount Whitney, the Tomahawk-armed USS Porter and the BGS Gordi frigate of the Bulgarian Navy.
The Admiral Essen is one of three Admiral Girgorovich-class frigates operating in the Black Sea Fleet. Along with their onboard complement of 9M317M surface-to-air missiles, close-in weapons systems and Igla-S/Verba SAMs, the warships are fitted with a naval gun and torpedo tubes for engagements with ships and subs, and vertical launch cells which can fire Oniks, Zircon, and Kalibr anti-ship and cruise missiles.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concerns over the deployment of non-Black Sea-adjacent countries’ warships in the body of water. These vessels have limits on the amount of time they are legally allowed to stay in the body of water, with the USS Mount Whitney and the USS Porter expected to leave the area within 21 days.
The US naval deployment comes amid escalating tensions between Moscow and NATO over Ukraine amid (debunked
) reports of a ‘Russian troop buildup’ near the country and calls by House lawmakers to increase US lethal aid to Kiev, and to “deploy a US military presence in the Black Sea to deter a Russian invasion.”
Last week, Politico published satellite images purporting to show Russian forces building up “on the border with Ukraine,” while actually showing
Russian armoured units in Smolensk region – about 250 km north of Ukraine, and 800 km from the conflict zone in Ukraine’s east.
6 November 2021, 01:01 GMT
the Sixth Fleet, the USS Mount Whitney and the USS Porter are deployed to the Black Sea to take part in joint drills with NATO and partner forces, with these forces “working together to ensure security and stability in the region.”
The Sixth Fleet is one of seven active fleets in the US Navy’s arsenal. Unlike most other countries, whose naval operations are typically limited to areas near their home shores, the US deploys its fleets across the globe, with the Sixth Fleet headquartered in Naples, Italy. Its areas of responsibility include Europe and Africa.