US missile destroyer transits Bosphorus, navy mentions Montreux Convention in tweet

The U.S. Navy missile destroyer USS Ross passed through the Bosphorus Strait to visit the Black Sea on Feb. 23. As the vessel was making its voyage, the U.S. Navy mentioned the 1936 Montreux Convention in a tweet.

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The U.S. Navy missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) passed through the Bosphorus Strait and entered the Black Sea on Feb. 23 to conduct maritime security patrols.

As the USS Ross was crossing the Bosphorus Strait, the U.S. Navy shared photos of the vessel on Twitter along with a hashtag that made a reference to 1936 Montreux Convention: #MontreuxConvention.

Navy ships regularly conduct operations in the Black Sea. The current operation marks the eighth time since the start of 2019 that a U.S. Navy vessel has entered the region, according to the U.S. Navy. However, among the Montreux Convention’s stipulations is that warships from countries without a Black Sea coast must depart after 21 days.

Also, the convention forbids the transit of non-Black Sea nations' warships with guns of a calibre larger than 203 mm through the Bosphorus Strait.

Therefore, the convention is regarded an obstacle to U.S. Naval buildup in the Black Sea, but as the United States is a not a party to the convention, it has no right to amend or terminate it.

The proposed Kanal Istanbul project (an artificial waterway to circumvent the Bosporus Strait), however, may be a possible bypass to the Montreux Convention and force greater Turkish autonomy with respect to the passage of military ships from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and vice-versa.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in December that the Montreux Convention will not apply to the Kanal Istanbul project. “We are looking at Kanal Istanbul as an alternative to the Bosporus [Strait]. It has nothing to do with the Montreux Convention. The canal will function as a Turkish waterway,” he said.

In the meantime, the U.S. officials have been expressing their unwavering support for Turkey in the face of Idlib crisis in Syria. The U.S. State Department vowed to back Ankara's ongoing military operations against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.