ODESSA, Ukraine (NNS) -- Sea Breeze 2011 officially kicked off with an opening ceremony and combined press conference with senior Ukrainian and U.S. Naval leadership at the Ukrainian Officer's Club in Odessa, June 6.
Air, land and naval forces from Azerbaijan, Algeria, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Macedonia, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate in Sea Breeze, the largest multinational maritime exercise this year in the Black Sea.
Co-hosted by the Ukraine and U.S. navies, the exercise will run June 6-18.
"It is a great pleasure for me to announce the opening of exercise Sea Breeze 2011," said Ukrainian Adm. Viktor Maksymov, commander in chief of Ukrainian naval forces, during a speech to more than 300 military and civilian members of the 13 participating countries of Sea Breeze. "In response to common threats facing the world today, this exercise will be dedicated to anti-piracy operations."
Sea Breeze's robust training agenda will include counter piracy training operations, non-combatant evacuation operations and visit, board, search and seizure training. Additionally, ground forces will conduct non-lethal weapons training designed to combat unlawful fishing, piracy, trafficking in persons, drugs and illegal weapons.
Rear Adm. Kenneth "K.J." Norton, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa director for policy, resources, and strategy, thanked Maksymov and the Ukrainian navy for hosting Sea Breeze and spoke about the importance of the exercise.
"Sea Breeze is about strengthening maritime partnerships in the Black Sea in the spirit of partnership for peace and is invaluable to all participating countries because it promotes regional stability and maritime security," said Norton.
The opening ceremony was followed by a press conference and then by an evening reception aboard USS Anzio (CG 68).
Sea Breeze 2011 aims to improve maritime safety, security and stability actions in the Black Sea by enhancing the capabilities of Partnership for Peace and Black Sea regional maritime security forces.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.