The American flagship in Sevastopol'. The sailors are not expecting a warm welcome.
The American command ship USS Mount Whitney sailed into Sevastopol'. The Americans are due to make a two day port visit to Crimea. For now these plans are under review. Their visit was almost canceled today. The Mount Whitney spent almost three hours at the outer roadstead waiting and then unexpectedly went back out to sea. Only after a few hours was the ship able to enter harbor. Meanwhile the sailors are not expected to receive a joyous welcome. Hundreds of people are demonstrating against the American ship in Sevastopol'. Interview with Yevgeniy Dubovik, Sevastopol' City Councilman:
We know that according to Article 95 of the Ukrainian Constitution, only the Supreme Rada can approve a port visits to the Hero City of Sevastopol'. We all know very well that the Supreme Rada is dysfunctional, so there is no permission. So today an American ship has invaded Sevastopol' without an invitation, which means that we will meet the ship with either peaceful picketing or combat grenades. For now, it is peaceful picketing.
Comment: What a dick.
I suspect that the Coast Guard Cutter may actually be someone spoofing the Mount Whitney, but here is a clip (with photos) of what is allegedly the conversation between the port pilot and the Ukrainian Customs Cutter on VHF maritime band:
Pilot: Can you tell us exactly what is the basis upon which we must leave your territorial waters?
Ukrainian Customs Service: You are leaving our territorial waters because you do not have permission to enter Sevastopol'. Therefore we ask that you leave our territorial waters.
Pilot: We do not have permission.
UCS: Yes, yes, you don't have permission to enter our territorial waters.
Pilot: Understood…(2-3 missed) that we do not have permission to enter the territorial waters of Ukraine.
UCS: I don't understand, repeat please.
Pilot: There is some confusion, we think we DO have permission to enter territorial waters.
UCS: The information I have says that you do not have permission to enter our territorial waters.
Pilot: Can you give us your full name and position?
UCS: We are the Border Service, you do not have permission to enter the territorial waters.
Pilot: Can you confirm your full name and position?
UCS: One minute...We have just talked with Sevastopol' and you do not have permission to enter territorial waters. You need to leave territorial waters and wait for permission to come.
Pilot: We await permission and we are leaving territorial waters and we will wait at the 12 mile limit.
UCS: You have understood correctly, at the 12 mile limit.
It does fit with some of the behavior observed by the denizens of the message boards at flot.sevastopol.info though. Speaking of which, for those of you planning to show up, the demonstration starts at 1000.
Tomorrow the demonstration will be at Nakhimov at 1000 to mark the 07 Nov holiday. After that we go to the Pindoses in port.
Gist: The American command ship unexpectedly departed Sevastopol' today (07 Nov). The Mount Whitney suddenly got underway and so far local officials have not explained the hasty departure. Originally the NATO sailors were supposed to stay in Sevastopol' for three days, but some reports suggest that problems arose when the Americans improperly filled out customs and border paperwork.
Also, a Mount Whitney crew member was gracious enough to post a comment thanking the Ukrainians for a pleasant port visit. With the exception of Souda Bay, Crete, I have rarely been on a port call where the locals allegedly "didn't like us" and I wasn't treated nicely by the vast majority of people. I genuinely think that, even in places like Sevastopol', the locals like Americans and America and that the US Navy almost always makes a good impression. It only takes the work of a few loud, bad apples on both sides (like the distinguished city councilman above) to spoil things. I am kind of shocked that the offical Russian media arm of the Russian military chose to highlight a violence-threatening thug/clown like the distinguished city councilman and not the thousands of friendly residents, Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar and other nationalities alike who welcome, like and profit from their visit. And profit not just from sailors spending their money, but also from the spirit of friendship that most of the Americans bring with them.