Scott Wyland — Stars and Stripes Jan 6, 2019
The dock-landing vessel USS Fort McHenry transited the Dardanelles Strait en route to the Black Sea on Sunday, making it the first U.S. Navy ship to enter the tense region since Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels in November in the Kerch Strait.
Navy officials say the Fort McHenry is conducting a regularly scheduled Black Sea operation. This is the first Navy ship to enter the Black Sea since August, when the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and the fast-transport vessel USNS Carson City worked separate missions there.
“We routinely operate in the Black Sea consistent with international law and the Montreux Convention and will continue to do so,” Cmdr. Kyle Raines, 6th Fleet spokesman, said. “We also continue our call for Ukraine and Russia to seek a diplomatic resolution to their dispute.”
Officials wouldn’t say when another ship might cruise into the Black Sea, citing the standard Navy policy of not discussing future operations.
#USSFortMcHenry (LSD 43) & embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), has begun its north-bound transit of the Dardanelles Strait, en route to the Black Sea #US6thFleet #Power4Peace pic.twitter.com/jTqF64i8e1
— U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet (@USNavyEurope) January 6, 2019
Russia’s MoD: The Patrol Ship Pytlivy Monitoring USS Fort McHenry’s Actions in Black Sea
Bulgarian Military.com – Jan 7, 2019
Today (7th January), the Russian Ministry of Defence reported that the actions of the amphibious dock landing ship of the U.S. Navy – Fort McHenry that has entered the Black Sea, are closely monitored by the patrol ship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – Pytlivy, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The exact statement of Russia’s Defence Ministry, quoted by TASS, says: “Patrol ship Pytlivy of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is performing a complex of activities to control the actions of amphibious transport dock (LSD) USS Fort McHenry.”
Fort McHenry entered the Black Sea at 21:00 Moscow time on 6th January and on the morning of 7th January at 9:30, it arrived at the Romanian port of Constanta. Aboard, there are about 500 Marines. The U.S. transport vessel is equipped with defensive weaponry including machine guns, short-range anti-missile systems and small cannons. It has little offensive capability.