U.S. Navy’s USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor have entered the Black Sea and are currently operating west of Sochi.
An amphibious command ship and a guided-missile frigate, on a routine and pre-scheduled deployment within the Sixth Fleet AOR (Area of Responsibility) have arrived near Sochi, the resort town on Russia’s Black Sea coast.
Their position can be tracked online using Shipfinder.net.
Indeed, they are using AIS (Automatic Identification System), an automatic tracking system used for identification and geo-localization of vessels that can be considered the naval homologous of the ADS-B used by airplanes and it is used for collision avoidance, search and rescue, and for aids to navigation.
It is mainly used by commercial vessels but even US Navy warships trasmit AIS signals every now and then.
Here below you can see a screenshot from Shipfinder, showing the position of USS Taylor (on top of the article you’ll see the position of USS Mount Whitney).
Image credit: Shipfinder.net
USS Mount Whitney is the flagship of the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet. As it did during the Libya Air War back in 2011, it will perform the command-and-control task, managing all the military activities related to the Winter Olympic Games security.
USS Taylor is an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate that is on its last deployment before being retired next year. The warship has been stripped out of the main AAW (Anti-Aircraft Warfare) armament and, along with a limited “Point Defense” capability, it usually performs a POS (Protection Of Shipping) mission offering an ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) escort to other U.S. Navy units. The ship carrier two SH-60 Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) helos, that can be used for the maritime warfare with a secondary search and rescue capability.
Hence, while USS Mount Whitney will coordinate any aerial or maritime operation following an eventual terrorist attack, the USS Taylor will provide cover (most probably keeping also an eye on the Russian submarines, spy ships and Moskva, the flagship of guided missile cruisers in the Russian Navy, that are operating in the same waters…)
Fears over terrorism increased in the last months following the threats against athletes and, above all, following suicide attacks on Volgograd in December last year.