ODESSA, Ukraine (NNS) -- Exercise Sea Breeze 2013, the 16th iteration of the largest annual multinational maritime exercise in the Black Sea, ended July 20, as representatives from the 14 participating partner nations gathered together for the exercise closing ceremony.
Naval, air, and land forces from participating countries worked together both ashore and at sea from July 8-20 in order to strengthen interoperability and to improve maritime security.
"The military leadership of the fourteen nations that participated in Sea Breeze know that we can only improve as a cooperative team if we challenge ourselves," said Capt. James Aiken, exercise deputy director. "Only then can we increase our cooperation and our interoperability as we become familiar with each other's military operating procedures and practices."
Much of the exercise focused on maritime interdiction operations as a primary means to enhance maritime security. The other key component was utilizing sea basing to conduct a range of operations ashore such as non-combatant evacuation to humanitarian assistance/disaster relief.
"The primary goal of the exercise has been achieved," said Ukraine navy Rear Adm. Dennis Berezovsky, exercise director. "I am pleased that every partner's efficiency, professionalism, and responsibility contributed to a great outcome. We all acquired new knowledge, skills, and experience in Sea Breeze."
This year's Sea Breeze increased in complexity by incorporating more real time operational challenges.
"We challenged the Sea Breeze participants by moving from scripted events to real time operations, requiring both operational and tactical decision making," said Aiken. "As events occurred within the scenario, commanders at the operational and tactical level were called on to provide a plan of action for a response.
"I strongly believe we have been successful in continuing to grow our relationships with each other - relationships that, in the 16 years of Sea Breeze exercises, have been built through cooperation, strengthened through partnership, and affirmed through improved interoperability on the seas, over the land, and in the air."
This year's participants included Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine and U.S., along with France, Libya, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, as observers.
Sea Breeze 13, co-hosted by the Ukrainian and U.S. navies, aimed 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.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.