ODESSA, Ukraine | Guided-missile destroyer USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) arrived in Odessa, Ukraine to participate in Exercise Sea Breeze 2012, July 7, during the ship's maiden deployment.
Participants and observers from 19 countries will work together during Sea Breeze, the largest multinational maritime exercise in the Black Sea which focuses on enhancing the maritime security capabilities of participating nations by helping participating forces achieve higher levels of interoperability.
"The Jason Dunham team is ready not only to lead training, but also to receive training from the many nations that will come together for Sea Breeze 2012," said Cmdr. David A. Bretz, commanding officer of the Jason Dunham. "No one nation can police the world's seas, but coming together for an exercise like this, with the number of nations who will be participating, is a great step towards bringing peace and stability to the world's maritime environment."
The focus of Sea Breeze 2012 training will be counter-piracy operations, search-and-rescue operations, live-fire exercises and maritime security activities. The exercise will also provide its participants with numerous opportunities to operate together and develop working relationships. The maritime security activities will include maritime boarding procedures, maritime interdiction operations and maritime domain awareness training, all designed to identify and intercept at-sea criminal activities such as unlawful fishing, piracy, and trafficking persons, drugs or illegal weapons.
Lt. j.g. Zachary Mahoney, boarding team leader aboard Jason Dunham, said Sea Breeze 2012 was a chance for his team to learn from other nations and gain a better understanding of how they operate.
"We want to use this exercise as not only an opportunity to instruct, but as an opportunity to learn," said Mahoney. "Every country's culture is different. As we work with participating nations, we want to learn from their cultures to ensure we act in a respectful manner at all times. We don't want to close the door on any lessons we can learn from any of the participating nations. Learning about each other allows us to communicate to the fullest extent, and we are excited to get started."
Yeoman 2nd Class Ras Benzo, a member of the boarding team, said Sea Breeze was the type of opportunity he looks forward to as a Sailor.
"Sea Breeze seems like an excellent use of all our different nations' resources," said Benzo. "We can accomplish more together than we could ever hope to alone. I'm looking forward to meeting and interacting with our counterparts from the other participating nations so we can all learn and contribute to a safer ocean and world."
Sea Breeze 2012, 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.
Jason Dunham is on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.