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The Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), with embarked elements of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), began its north-bound transit of the Dardanelles Strait, en route to the Black Sea, on January 6, 2019.

"USS Fort McHenry's transit into the Black Sea reaffirms our collective resolve to Black Sea security and enhances our strong relationships with our NATO allies and partners in the region," the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa / U.S. 6th Fleet website quoted Vice Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti, the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, as saying.

"Our routine operations in the Black Sea also demonstrate the inherent flexibility and capability of U.S. 6th Fleet naval forces," she added.

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The U.S. Navy routinely operates in the Black Sea consistent with international law, including the Montreux Convention.

During 2018, The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Carney (DDG 64) and USS Porter (DDG 78), the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) with embarked elements of the 26th MEU, and Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Carson City (T-EPF 7), all conducted operations in the Black Sea.

Homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla., Fort McHenry is on a regularly scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations with the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Arlington (LPD 24), and U.S. Marines assigned to the 22nd MEU, headquartered in Camp Lejeune, N.C.

While in U.S. 6th Fleet, the ship will conduct operations with allies and partners to advance security and stability in Europe.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.