An Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer Friday became the first U.S. warship to operate near the Black Sea since Russia invaded Ukraine.
According to a news release from the U.S. Sixth Fleet, the USS Nitze arrived at Golcuk Naval Base in Turkey on Friday for a scheduled port visit just days before a 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused widespread destruction and more than 7,700 deaths in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria. Golcuk Naval Base is about 656 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake in Gaziantep.
Jeff Flake, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey and former Republican senator from Arizona, and other U.S. diplomats were given a tour of the Nitze on Friday by Cmdr. Katie Jacobson, the ship's commanding officer.
"The Navy offers a unique opportunity to strengthen the NATO alliance between the U.S. and Turkey while allowing the crew to experience the rich culture and history of a strategically important country that bridges Europe and Asia," Jacobson said in the news release. "Nitze's officers and crew are truly excited to be here."
The Nitze, part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, left the naval base on the east coast of the Sea of Marmara for the Mediterranean Sea on Monday. It became the first U.S. warship to approach the Black Sea since the USS Arleigh Burke in December 2021, according to Stars and Stripes.
En route Friday to Golcuk Naval Base, the Nitze anchored in the Bosporus, a key waterway that runs through Istanbul and into the Black Sea. Turkey had closed the Bosporus to warships since Russia's invasion, which will hit its one-year anniversary Feb. 24. An exception is made for warships returning to a base in the Black Sea, including Russian vessels, and merchant ships, such as grain shipments from Ukraine as part of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
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