Report: U.S. ships could enter Black Sea
Stars and Stripes
European edition, Thursday, August 21, 2008
The Turkish government has given permission to three U.S. ships to enter the Black Sea as part of relief efforts in Georgia, a U.S. official confirmed on Wednesday. However, Defense officials would not confirm that the ships are headed to Georgia.
CNN first reported Wednesday that the command ship USS Mount Whitney, based in Italy, along with the destroyer USS McFaul and Coast Guard Cutter Dallas could be used to deliver humanitarian assistance supplies to Georgia.
The U.S. official said the McFaul and Dallas soon would leave Crete for Georgia, followed by the Mount Whitney later this month.
Asked about the report, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said, "All of those platforms have been part of the discussion … but at this point I don’t have anything to announce."
While officials have considered the option of using U.S. Navy ships as a way to deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia, none so far have been tapped to sail to the war-torn country, U.S. Navy and European Command officials said.
"There are no approved plans for U.S. ship involvement at this point," stressed Cmdr. Scott Miller, spokesman with Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet.
"Are we prudently planning? Yes. We have been considering all options."
U.S. Navy Cargo planes airlifting humanitarian hygiene kits are the only Navy assets being used at this point, he said.