Royal Navy warship HMS Dragon has spent a week forging ties with the Ukrainian Navy at the port of Odessa.
The Portsmouth-based destroyer is patrolling the Black Sea, having broken away from the UK’s amphibious task group operating in the Mediterranean.
She is working with Britain’s allies and partners in the region to ensure freedom of movement.
Her high-profile visit to Odessa, home of the Ukrainian Navy, focused on diplomacy and combined training.
Dragon's passageways and compartments were used as a training ground for elite Ukrainian commando forces, 73rd Marine detachment, who practised board and search skills.
Staff from the Ukrainian Navy’s damage control school were shown how Royal Navy sailors deal with fire and flood on board, while the destroyer's Wildcat team and Ukrainian counterparts discussed how they would safely operate a helicopter from a modern warship at sea and utilise survival equipment.
The Wildcat also shared the skies with an Mi-14 from 10 Naval Aviation Brigade, painted in Ukraine’s national colours of light blue and yellow.
Ukraine is beginning a 15-year plan to strengthen its navy, support facilities, shipbuilding and ports on the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, aiming to become a major regional maritime force by 2035, the Royal Navy said.
Lieutenant Dimitrii Rudnev, in charge of Ukraine's new reconnaissance ship UKRS Lahuna, joined HMS Dragon for manoeuvres with three of his nation's patrol ships off the Odessa coastline to learn about Royal Navy routines at sea, as well as how it carries out close, complex manoeuvres with foreign vessels, guided by standard NATO terminology and procedures.
"It means a lot to be here on HMS Dragon – particularly so soon after President Zelenskyy visited HMS Prince of Wales in England," Lt Rudnev said.
"Both navies working alongside one another is further affirmation of strong UK-Ukrainian bonds."
The destroyer's Commanding Officer Commander Giles Palin said: "We are delighted to be working alongside the Ukrainian Navy while in Odessa – and to be learning valuable insights from one another through joint training.
"We’ve tested our reactions to emergencies through practising advanced firefighting techniques and honed the ability of both nations’ specialist teams to conduct interdiction operations through boarding training.
"By capacity building with allies in this way, we bolster their resilience and ability to defend themselves in the face of any aggression – as well as enabling us to learn from their experiences."
Dragon's ship's company also paid their respects to Odessa's Second World War heroes.
Personnel laid a wreath at the foot of the Monument to the Unknown Sailor, which rises 21 metres above Shevchenka Park and commemorates the sailors and marines who took part in the autumn battles of 1941.
The city, with hits tree-lined boulevards and grand, was laid waste during a siege when attacked by German and Romanian troops, while as many as 60,000 men and women sacrificed themselves defending it.
Cover image: Ukrainian marines hone board and search skills aboard HMS Dragon (Picture: Royal Navy).