US patrol boats sent to back up Ukrainian Navy near Black Sea

The new boats are part of a security package to Ukraine worth over $2.5 billion since 2014, the year when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

 US flagged general cargo ship Ocean Grand, carrying two US Coast Guard cutters, sails in the Dardanelles, on its way to the Black Sea, in Canakkale,Turkey November 20, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/YORUK ISIK)
US flagged general cargo ship Ocean Grand, carrying two US Coast Guard cutters, sails in the Dardanelles, on its way to the Black Sea, in Canakkale,Turkey November 20, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YORUK ISIK)

A ship carrying two refitted former US Coast Guard patrol boats designed to beef up the Ukrainian Navy transited the Dardanelles strait on Saturday days after Ukraine said it feared Russia might be preparing an attack on it.

The ship carrying the two Island-class patrol boats departed Baltimore for the Ukrainian port of Odesa on Nov. 8. Ukrainian sailors have already undergone extensive training on the vessels in the United States. Ukraine got two similar vessels in 2019.

The two new boats are part of a security package to Ukraine worth over $2.5 billion since 2014, the year when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula and Russian-backed separatists seized a swath of eastern Ukraine, the US embassy in Kyiv says.

 US flagged general cargo ship Ocean Grand, carrying US Coast Guard cutters, sails in the Dardanelles, on its way to the Black Sea, in Canakkale, Turkey November 20, 2021.  (credit: REUTERS/YORUK ISIK) US flagged general cargo ship Ocean Grand, carrying US Coast Guard cutters, sails in the Dardanelles, on its way to the Black Sea, in Canakkale, Turkey November 20, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/YORUK ISIK)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday his country has real concerns, widely shared with partners in Europe, over Russian activities at the Ukrainian border, after Ukraine said it feared Russia might be preparing an attack.