VARNA, Bulgaria (May 4, 2015) -- Fourteen Bradley Infantry Fighting vehicles and several wheeled-support vehicles, roughly 748 metric tons of steel and rubber, cut across the Black Sea aboard a cargo ferry bound for the port in Batumi, Georgia, May 2.

This is the first time that the U.S. Army has deployed a mechanized company worth of equipment across the Black Sea. The equipment will support the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers, participating in Exercise Noble Partner.

The exercise will take place from May 11-25 at Vaziani Training Area. Noble Partner is designed to further relations between the U.S. and Georgian armed forces, who contribute to the 2015 NATO Response Force.

"[This] movement from Varna, Bulgaria, across the Black Sea to the port of Batumi in Georgia, opens new avenues for transport with partner nations. Expanding freedom of movement enables easier access to training with allies as well as responding quickly to contingency operations," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark Shawen, the sea transport officer under the 21st Theater Sustainment Command's transportation branch.

The massive logistical movement was orchestrated by transportation specialists under the 16th Sustainment Brigade's 635th Movement Control Team, or MCT. Exercise Noble Partner tests the 635th MCT's rapid planning, execution and flexibility of transportation capabilities supporting U.S. training with Georgian NATO response forces.

"The exercise demands extensive coordination before any vehicles or personnel can move. The team works with the multinational heavy airlift wing out of Hungary, both local and military police in Bulgaria, as well as customs officials on both sides of the Black Sea, to ensure all equipment meets necessary standards for travel," said 2nd Lt. Stephen Grabinski, a team leader from the 635th MCT.