A United States destroyer, the USS Nitze (DDG-94), has anchored near the entrance to the Bosporus Strait, marking the closest a U.S. warship has been to the Ukraine-Russia conflict in nearly a year. The Bosphorus Strait was closed to warships on Feb. 28, 2022, four days after Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, only warships with ports in the Black Sea, including the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Turkish ships, have been allowed to enter.
The last American warship to transit the strait was the USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), which left the Black Sea on Dec. 15, 2021, following a port visit in Bulgaria.
U.S. 6th Fleet confirmed that the Nitze had anchored off Istanbul's coast ahead of a scheduled port call at Gölcük Naval Base. The Nitze is part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group and stopped near Istanbul's Dolmbahçe Palace. U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake and U.S. Consul General to Istanbul Julie Eadeh visited the ship during its stop.
In a statement, Flake said, “Turkey is a highly valued NATO Ally. Nitze’s visit is an opportunity to further strengthen our long-standing and vital partnership with Turkey.” The scheduled port call is the third the Nitze has made in the 6th Fleet’s area of operation since deploying in July 2022.
The USS George H. W. Bush (CVN-77) also made a scheduled port call on Friday, arriving in Piraeus, Greece. The strike group’s cruiser, the USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), made a port call in Greece on Jan. 30. The George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group has been operating in the Mediterranean Sea under NATO control since deploying there in August and replacing the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group.