Sunday, September 07, 2008

US Command Ship Docks in Georgia

USS Mt Whitney (LCC/JCC 20)

USS Mt Whitney has docked at Poti, Georgia, that country's main Black Sea port, and within shooting distance of Russian forces.

In August 2008, Mount Whitney was deployed to the Black Sea in support of Operation Assured Delivery to allegedly deliver humanitarian aid to those affected by the Russian-Georgian war and became the first NATO ship to "deliver aid" to the port of Poti, Georgia.(Source)

USS Mt Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) is not a hospital ship, a cargo ship or just any old rust bucket freighter: she is the flagship of the Sixth Fleet, and is the command ship for the Commander Joint Command Lisbon and the Commander Striking Force NATO. Considered by some to be "the most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence (C4I) ship ever commissioned", Mount Whitney incorporates various elements of the most advanced C4I equipment and gives the embarked Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command all units under the command of the Commander, Joint Task Force.(Source) She is staffed by regular Navy personnel, elements of the 2nd Marine Division and II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF), and NSA.

Now, what in the hell is the "most sophisticated Command, Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence ship ever commissioned" doing within "shooting distance" of Russian troops, rather than, say, a unit of the Military Sealift Command?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Sept 12, 2008:

In accordance with the Montreux Convention, which governs passage through the Straits of the Dardenalles, all US Navy ships, including the Command and Control ship USS Mt Whitney, have departed the Black Sea.

Under the terms of the Convention, military ships may not remain in the Black Sea for more than 21 days.

"Meanwhile, NATO said on Wednesday it had ended a routine exercise by four naval ships in the Black Sea. Russia had denounced the exercise as part of a Western military buildup sparked by the Georgia conflict." Source.