“It is expected that Vella Gulf will pass through the Black Sea straits on May 23. According to available data, the ship will be performing the tasks of US Navy command in the eastern part of the Black Sea,” the source specified.
Earlier it was reported that Vella Gulf missile cruiser would visit the Black Sea on May 9, however, the visit was postponed. A source in the military-diplomatic service said on May 9: “The cruiser’s visit has been postponed for an indefinite term, but it will likely take place in the end of this month, ahead of Ukraine’s presidential elections scheduled for May 25.” The source added then that with the presence of their ship in the Black Sea, the USA was intending to support the actions of new Ukrainian authorities.
In accordance with the Montreux Convention, military ships of non-riparian states cannot stay in the Black Sea for more than 21 days. Thus, in case the visit starts May 23 in the morning, Vella Gulf would have to leave the Black Sea not later than early on June 13.
Vella Gulf is equipped with Aegis air and ballistic missile defense system. It has Tomahawk cruise missiles, ASROC antisubmarine missiles, as well as Standard-2 and Standard-3 surface-to-air missiles in the inventory (122 missiles in total). Two multipurpose helicopters base on the cruiser. The ship is 172 meters long, 16 meters wide, and the full load displacement makes 9,800 tons. The maximum speed of Vella Gulf is more than 30 knots.