Amid the ongoing standoff with Russia over Ukraine, the United States is sending another warship to the Black Sea.
According to Pentagon officials, a guided missile cruiser, the USS Vella Gulf, is sailing to the region to reassure US allies over what they describe as Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
Washington launched a military buildup in the Balkans in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
It has sent troops to several eastern European countries and held several NATO military maneuvers in the region.
In March, the United States deployed the Navy destroyer the USS Truxtun.
The Navy frigate the USS Taylor has also been in the strategic waters of the Black Sea two times in recent months.
However, the presence of US warships violates a 1936 convention, which bars extra-regional countries from keeping warships in the Black Sea for more than 21 days.
Vella Gulf, a Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser, is equipped with Aegis air and ballistic missile defense system, and has 122 missiles in the inventory, including Tomahawk cruise missiles, ASROC antisubmarine missiles, and surface-to-air missiles.
The missile cruiser also accommodates two multipurpose helicopters.
Tensions between Washington and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum in March.
The United States accuses Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty by stirring up pro-Russia protests in the Eastern European nation.