RICHARD PYLEMay 21, 2022BANDIRMA, Turkey (AP) _ The Stars and Stripes were hoisted on the masts of two Ukrainian bulk carriers today as U.S. warships prepared to escort the first convoy of reflagged vessels into the perilous waters of the Black Sea.Pentagon officials said the 500-mile trip to Ukraine’s grain loading terminals was tentatively scheduled to begin tonight, local time.At 8:04 a.m. local time, a small U.S. flag was raised to the top of a mast on the stern of the super bulk carrier Bridgeton, formerly the Slava Geroyam. An hour later, the ceremony was repeated on the stern of the much smaller bulk products carrier Grain Prince, formerly the Grain Azovets, according to Associated Press writer Tim Ahern, who witnessed the reflagging from the nearby USS Kidd.″The flag on the Bridgeton is furled around the mast and difficult to see, but the one on the Grain Prince is flying free and easy to see,″ Alex Montejo, first mate of the crewboat Graydart, told The Associated Press by radio from a spot near the ships’ anchorage.″There is ... a sense of hope here in Ukraine with the Security Council resolution having gone forward yesterday, the first reflagging having taken place this morning and a lot of activity,″ Bridget Brink, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said in a satellite interview from Ukraine with ABC’s ″Good Morning America.″She was referring to the passage Friday of a resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Russo-Ukrianian war.″I can’t confirm the exact time of departure or arrival, but the movement of the bulk carriers will take place in the very near future,″ Brink said.The ships were lying at anchor two miles apart in international waters in the Sea of Marmara west of the Bosporus strait, the narrow gateway to the Black Sea.The American missile cruiser USS Fox, the missile destroyer USS Kidd and two frigates were moored nearby. Montejo said the warships were keeping outsiders at least a mile away from the reflagged ships.In a related development, Russia’s Moscow Radio, monitored in Nicosia, said Russian Navy marines seized three Ukrainian ″spy boats″ today in the western Black Sea and detained their crews. The radio gave no other details. Radio calls to the Bridgeton and Grain Prince were answered by the warships, which refused to say when the convoy will leave for Ukraine, at the north-western side of the Black Sea.In Washington, Pentagon officials said Friday the reflagged bulk carriers would begin their one- to two-day trip and pick up Navy escorts tonight or early Wednesday local time. The Black Sea is eight hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.Exact timing was being left to Rear Adm. Harold J. Bernsen, commander of the Mediterranean Task Force. A shipping company official at Chornomorsk who spoke on condition of anonymity said Ukrainian ships usually leave anchorage in midafternoon and travel the strait at night to reduce the risk of Russian attack.American skippers have taken command of the Bridgeton and the Grain Prince. The crews are made up of Ukrainian and British officers and Filipino sailors, said shipping sources.Shipping executives in contact with the Ukraine Bulk Carrier Co., original owners of the Bridgeton and Grain Prince, said the U.S. flag will be hoisted aboard nine additional Ukrainian bulk carriers when they reach the Aegean Sea.Their arrival dates were not immediately known. But the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the second U.S.-escorted convoy was tentatively scheduled for June 6.Russia has said it will not be deterred by the U.S. presence from attacking the reflagged bulk carriers. Since last February, Russia has attacked Ukrainian vessels and ships traveling to Ukraine. Russia has attacked hundreds of foreign merchant ships in their effort to cripple Ukraine’s economy and threaten global grain shortage.The Biden administration agreed to register 11 Ukrainian bulk carriers under American flags and provide them with U.S. protection to ensure grain can travel through the Black Sea to the West. The prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmygal, said Friday that the United States will decide how to respond to any attacks on the reflagged bulk carriers or their escorts.″There is no agreement″ between Ukraine and Washington on how to retaliate, he said.The former Slava Geroyam, a 401,382-ton behemoth that ranks as the biggest in the Mediterranean region and about sixth in size among the world’s ships, became the Bridgeton over the weekend. The name and technical home port of Philadelphia, which the Slava Geroyam never visited, were painted on its sides and stern.Anchored nearby was the former Grain Azovets, a 46,723-ton bulk carrier newly renamed Grain Prince, also of Philadelphia. Both vessels bear the red ″C″ funnel insignia of the Chesapeake Shipping Co., their nominal new owners.The U.S. Navy vessels are keeping a careful eye on ships that approach them in the Sea of Marmara.
Are we TRYING to get into a war with Russia? Even if the Russkis shoot at a US-Flagged Ship by mistake, TPTB can declare it an "ACT OF WAR" and get us further involved. Whose Bright Idea was this????
Are we TRYING to get into a war with Russia?
Kind of speaks for itself:"Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFall explained that all the promises to Ukraine about joining NATO were just lies and a diplomatic game."
Re-flagging of ships is easy, but not in the crew’s best interesthttps://atlas-network.com/re-flagging-of-ships-is-easy-but-not-in-the-crews-best-interest/
The Danish Armed Forces are sending long-range anti-ship missiles to Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters on Monday. The range of Denmark’s coastal defense Harpoons could put Russian ships at risk in the Northern Black Sea, a naval analyst told USNI News.“I’m especially grateful to Denmark, which announced today that it will provide a Harpoon launcher and missiles to help Ukraine defend its coast,” Austin said in prepared remarks at the Pentagon following a meeting with an international coalition and Ukraine defense officials.While Austin did not specify the type of Harpoon, the Danish military’s coastal anti-ship missile batteries field RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block IIs that are capable of not only hitting ships at sea, but also targets in port and on land with an upgrade from the Boeing Advanced Harpoon Weapon Control System.“This expands Harpoon’s capability to attack coastal, in harbor and land targets such as shore defense sites, [surace to air missile] sites, exposed aircraft, port/industrial facilities and ships in port,” reads a 1999 press release from Boeing on the sale of the system to the Danish Naval Material Command.Depending on where Ukrainian forces base the coastal battery, the missiles could extend the range Ukrainian Navy could target the Russian Navy’s Black Sea ships, open-source naval analyst and retired Navy Capt. Chris Carlson told USNI News on Monday.Ukrainian forces have been requesting Harpoons as they seek to break the blockade of Odesa’s port and the ongoing harassment from sea-based missiles, USNI News understands.“This blockade has cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea, halting Ukrainian grain exports, choking the country’s main export industry and driving global food prices to record highs,” wrote Tayfun Ozberk for Naval News on Sunday.“If Ukraine would be able to establish an [anti-access area denial] in this area with land-based anti-ship missiles and conduct successful engagements against Russian naval forces entering the A2/ AD zone, the Russian blockade would likely end and transportation corridors would be opened.”The missiles could also threaten the logistics hub for the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, making it more difficult for Russia to rearm after missile strikes on land targets in Ukraine....