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MOSCOW, May 19. /ITAR-TASS/. American Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf is expected to enter the Black Sea May 23, a military-diplomatic source told ITAR-TASS on Monday.
Earlier it was reported that Vella Gulf missile cruiser would visit the Black Sea May 9, however, the visit was postponed. A source in the military-diplomatic service told ITAR-TASS 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 m long, 16 m wide, and the full load displacement makes 9,800 t. The maximum speed of Vella Gulf is more than 30 knots.