The 18th iteration of the annual multinational exercise Sea Breeze is underway in Odessa and the Shiroky Lan training range in Ukraine.

This year’s exercise is being held in the Black Sea and is co-hosted by Ukraine and the US.

It is set to involve the participation of air, land, sea and amphibious forces from 17 countries worldwide.

Exercise Sea Breeze 2018 is intended to offer high-end training to the participants and will help increase flexibility and interoperability, as well as strengthen their combined response capabilities.

“This year’s Sea Breeze is the first time we will take the staff to sea and embark the US 6th Fleet flag ship, USS Mount Whitney.”

It is also designed to demonstrate resolve among the partner nation forces in order to provide stability in the Black Sea region.

The exercise helps bolster regional security by providing training in different areas such as maritime interdiction operations, air defence, anti-submarine warfare, damage control tactics, search and rescue, and amphibious warfare.

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The US Navy assets participating in the exercise include the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) and a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft from Patrol Squadron (VP) 10.

Sea Breeze 2018 will also include the US Marines from Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, along with Navy Underwater Construction Team 1 divers, members of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and the US 6th Fleet.

US Navy Task Force 65 commodore captain Matthew Lehman said: “This year’s Sea Breeze is the first time we will take the staff to sea and embark the US 6th Fleet flag ship, USS Mount Whitney.

“We will be operating our flag ship alongside our Nato allies and partner nations in the Black Sea.

“The maritime portion will incorporate all warfare areas to continue to build on last year’s successes, while pushing the exercise to become more advanced to adhere to the ever-changing operational environment.”

In addition to the two host countries, other participating nations include Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.