ODESSA, Ukraine – The guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) departed Odessa, Ukraine, July 12, after a 4-day port visit in support of Exercise Sea Breeze 2012 (SB12), the largest multinational maritime exercise this year in the Black Sea.
While underway, Jason Dunham will participate in combined training exercises with the nations participating in SB12.
Cmdr. David A. Bretz, commanding officer of Jason Dunham, said the Jason Dunham team was ready to execute their mission.
“Our Sailors enjoyed their opportunity to experience Odessa, but now they are focused on the mission,” said Cmdr. Bretz. “We all realize how important Sea Breeze 2012 is, and we want to get underway with the other participating nations to receive and provide quality training to make this exercise a success.”
While underway, embarked staff members from the Georgian and Ukrainian navies will assume leadership roles for many of the planned evolutions. In addition, embarked shipriders from SB12 participating nations will train aboard Jason Dunham during counter piracy, search and rescue, live fire, and maritime security activity exercises.
One embarked shiprider, Turkish Midshipman Fatih Bariş, from the Turkish Naval Academy, said his time aboard will provide him with many advantages for his career.
“I’ve just finished my first year of school, and before I join the Turkish navy, I want to have some experience,” said Bariş. “Being able to train on a ship of this caliber will provide me with that experience. I want to use my time here to learn as much as I can, so I can take those lessons back to my navy and excel.”
During the port visit in Odessa, Jason Dunham hosted a reception to honor the beginning of Sea Breeze 2012, and Sailors participated in a community relations project. They were also able to take part in city tours coordinated by the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation committee.
Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Ronald Virgin said the people of Odessa were warm and hospitable to the Jason Dunham Sailors.
“Everywhere we went, people were waving and smiling at us,” said Virgin. “I had a great time in Ukraine, and can’t wait to go back.”
SB12, co-hosted by the Ukrainian and U.S. navies, aims to improve maritime safety, security and stability engagements in the Black Sea by enhancing the capabilities of Partnership for Peace and Black Sea regional maritime security forces.