The US Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxton, crossed the Dardanelles on its way to the Black Sea amidst the turmoil in Ukraine.
The Dardanelles is a narrow stretch of water in Turkey that separates Europe and Asia. The Truxton still has to pass through the Bosphorus Straights in Istanbul before it reaches the Black Sea.
The Truxton is part of the Arleigh Burke class of destroyer and is among the largest destroyers ever built for the US navy. It is designed as a multi-role warship with anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-surface capabilities.
The US military said on Thursday it was a routine deployment for “previously planned exercises” scheduled long before the current crisis in Ukraine.
The USS Truxton is to carry out training exercise with the Romanian and Bulgarian navies, both members of NATO, which involve joint maneuvers including landing aircraft on ships.
“Truxton’s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the US,” said Lieutenant Shawn Eklund, a spokesman for the US military.
The Truxton is part of the George HW Bush Carrier Strike Group, which recently entered the Mediterranean and is training with regional navies.
Ukrainian bloggers share the images of the nuclear aircraft carrier with the hashtag #Aquamaidan, in reference to Euromaidan, which was the epicenter of the anti-government protests in Kiev.
The USS Truxton will join the USS Taylor as the only two US vessels in the Black Sea. The Taylor, a guided missile frigate, is moored in Samsun, Turkey after running aground in February.
This comes as Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, said on Thursday that the US air force will send 12 F-16 fighter jets and 300 service personnel to Poland next week to take part in a training exercise, whose size has been expanded in response to the crisis in Ukraine.
The exercise will be centered on the Lask air force base in central Poland and was originally only to have involved transport aircraft.
The US military also announced on Thursday that a further six F-15 fighter jets will be sent to Lithuania to help step up NATO patrols in the region.