On Sunday, September 15, the Russian Black Sea Fleet started escorting the transport ship USNS Yuma, which entered Black Sea waters at around 17:30, Interfax reports, citing Russia’s National Defense Management Center.
“The designated on-duty forces and vessels of the Black Sea Fleet are continuously tracking the American ship,” the article states.
At the end of June, the Yuma brought a battalion of US marines and vehicles to Odessa, Ukraine, for the Sea Breeze 2019 exercise. According to BlackSeaNews editor-in-chief Andrei Klimenko, it is most likely heading for Georgia now.
The USNS Yuma is the eighth Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport catamaran. The vessel was commissioned in 2016. It has a length of 103 m and a breadth of 28.5 m, an extremely high top speed of 43 knots (80 km/h) and a displacement of 2,400 tons.
The vessel can carry more than 300 marines and roughly 550 tons of munitions and vehicles, including tanks. Its draft is just under 4 m, allowing it to operate in shallow water. The ship also has a helicopter pad. The ship has an unusual appearance, being made of an aluminum alloy and not painted any particular color.