Deniz Yıldızı 14 Naval Exercise

Turkish Navy is going to conduct a large-scale exercise in Black Sea and Marmara Sea.

The exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2014 will be held between start on 7 and 11 April 2014.

There is a long list of participating units as purpose of the exercise is to try to improve operations performed and fleet or task force level.  7 frigates, 1 corvette, 2 submarines, 8 fast attack craft, 1 mine hunter, 3 auxiliaries, 6 helicopters and 2 maritime patrol aircraft will take part in the exercise. In addition to these units 8 coast guard vessels and various Turkish Air  Force units will participate in the exercise.

 

 

French Warship FS Alizé Passed Through Bosphorus

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Mr. Kerim Bozkurt, an invaluable contributor to this blog also shared his photos of the FS Alizé as she passed through Bosphorus.

She is now in Varna, Bulgaria. According to The Voice of Russia she is going to take part in joint sea rescue exercises.

The photos below are taken from informative blog Sea Dog.

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French Warship FS Alizé Passed Through Dardanelles

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A-645 FS Alizé passing through the Dardanelles. Photo: elazighaberi.com

On 26 March 2014, French warship A-645 FS Alizé made a northbound passage through the Dardanelles.

According to news reports her destination was not disclosed but it is safe to assume that she is heading to the Black Sea.

She is a very peciluar ship to send to the Black Sea.

First of all she is not a front line combatant like a destroyer, frigate of corvette. She is a diving support ship, meaning that she carries all the necessary support equipment for diving operations and hyperbaric chamber and specialized medical facilities.

Second, if Wikipedia is correct she is mainly used for the operations of divers from Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure. That’s France’s external intelligence agency

Now the million dollar question is why is France sending an auxiliary warship mainly tasked with supporting spy divers to the Black sea?

Here is a video of A-645 FS Alizé as she passes Çanakkale:
http://www.sondakika.com/haber/haber-fransiz-askeri-gemisi-canakkale-bogazi-ndan-gecti-5831330/

Russians Doubled Their Submarine Force In The Black Sea

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The existing Russian Varshaviyanka (project 877) class submarine Alrosa on left and the newly gained Russian Foxtrot (Project 641) class submarine Zaporizya on right. Photo: Anton Blinov.

Last weekend on 22 March 2014, a second submarine joined the Russian Black Sea Fleet. This Foxtrot (Project 641) class submarine, launched in 1970 is not among the new constructions to strengthen the Black Sea Fleet. It is more or less adopted.

According to RIA Novosti the half of the crew of the Ukrainian submarine Zaporizya decided to join the Russian Navy.

Captain 1st Rank Anatoly Varochkin, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet’s submarine flotilla, told RIA Novosti that half of the Zaporizhzhia’s crew, including the captain, refused to serve in the Russian Navy and left the vessel. “Half of the submarine’s crew is ready to serve [Russia] and fulfill their tasks. They know their vessel and will continue service,” Varochkin said adding that the submarine was in a poor technical condition.

Well the submarine is old and she can probably cannot dive deeper than her periscope depth which might be between 12 to 15 meters. But it is not important what the Russians got it is important how they have got it.

The Russian blogger Anton Blinov has an excellent set of photos taken at the re flagging ceremony of the old Soviet, old Ukrainian new Russian submarine.

 

For further reading:
The Ukrainian Submarine Zaporizya Made Her First Dive
The Ukrainian Submarine Is Back In Regular Service
The Sole Ukraine Submarine Conducted Sea Trials In Black Sea
Russians Teach Ukrainians How To Escape From A Sunken Submarine
Turkey To Train Ukrainian Submariners?
Renewal of Naval Relations Between Russia and Ukraine
Russia Is Helping Ukraine To Maintain A Submarine

USS Taylor Departs Samsun

While USS Truxtun sailed towards the Black Sea another US Navy warship is trying to leave it.

The Perry class frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor is being towed towards Souda, Creta. USS Taylor was with USS Mount Whitney, the flag-ship of US 6th Fleet port of the US Navy’s Olympic Deployment. Both ships arrived just before the 2014 Olympic games and were supposed to stay during the games on position outside of Russian waters.

On 12 January 2014, the frigate run aground as she was about to be docked at Samsun harbour for refueling. The frigates sole propeller was damaged rendering the ship unable to move.  Since then, USS Taylor remained  docked at Samsun port.

USS Taylor (FFG 50) departed the Turkish port of Samsun, March 7, for Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, for repairs following the Feb. 12 grounding incident. The ship was moved with the assistance of a tug from Donjon Towing Company. 

NSA Souda Bay was chosen as the closest location with the most robust U.S. Navy support and logistics infrastructure. 

Repairs to Taylor will include replacement of the propeller blades and propeller hub. Repairs are expected to take several weeks. Following completion of repairs, Taylor will continue its scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operations. 

While the brilliantly worded text of the U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs keeps the reader in suspense whether the frigate is towed by the tug or not, the photos taken in Samsun clearly provide us the answer:

USS Taylor being puılled away from Samsun. Photo: Anadolu Ajansı, via gettyimages.

USS Taylor being pulled away from Samsun. Photo: Anadolu Ajansı, via gettyimages.

I would appreciate any information regarding the tug.

Ukrainian Frigate Hetman Sahaidachny Passed Through Turkish Straits

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus.

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus.

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus.

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus.

The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy, the Krivak III (Project 1135.1) class frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passed through the Turkish Straits today and is now in the Black Sea. I have no information about her destination. It can be Sevastopol or Odessa. We will know better tomorrow.

The ship was doing anti piracy operations first with the CTF-151 and later with Operation Atalanta since September 2013.

A large Ukrainian flag was hoisted as she was passing through the Bosphorus contrary to the earlier reports that she has changed flags.  During her passage she was escorted by large patrol boat TCSG-90 from Turkish Coast Guard. Turkish Coast Guard vessels usually escort foreign warships during their passages through Turkish Straits.

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A few minutes later a Turkish Meko 200 class frigate TCG Yavuz passed through the Bosphorus and followed the Ukrainian warship towards the Black Sea.

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Turkish frigate F-240 TCG Yavuz sailing towards the Black Sea

I do not think that the Turkish warship was shadowing the Ukrainian frigate or escorting her, but the presence of the Turkish frigate was not a coincidence either.

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus. Photos: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.


A group of Ukrainians were cheering as the flagship of their navy passed by them.

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus. Photos: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny passing through the Bosphorus. Photos: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

USS Taylor Commanding Officer Relieved of Duty

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor is still in Samsun.

Unfortunately the career of the commanding officer of the stricken frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor did not survived the grounding in Samsun, Turkey.  As expected, Commander Dennis Volpe was relieved from the command of USS Taylor.

Capt. Jim Aiken, commander, Task Force 65, relieved Cmdr. Dennis Volpe, commanding officer of the Mayport-based frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50), Feb. 25, due to loss of confidence in Volpe’s ability to command.

The relief occurred following a preliminary inquiry into a Feb. 12 grounding incident in Samsun, Turkey. The grounding occurred as Taylor was preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey.

Taylor was able to moor without further incident. There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation.

Volpe has been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 14.

Cmdr. Chris Cigna has been named as interim commanding officer of USS Taylor until a permanent relief can be assigned.

I have been told by reliable sources that the repair work on the frigate was not finished and despite earlier assumptions the frigate was still docked in Samsun. While it is not clear how long the repair of USS Taylor will take, she was going to be decommissioned next year.

So will USS Taylor become a second USS La Moure County?

USS Taylor In Samsun

FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo: iha

FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo: iha

Perry class Frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor docked at Samsun, Turkey after spending the last 6 days making circles in the Black Sea.

Samsun is not a new place for USS Taylor. The ship was there on the New Years Eve in 2009.

It was not announced how long the ship will stay for its well earned rest.

Russia Sees The US Navy’s Bet And Rises One

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

The show down between Russia and USA on the Black Sea is continuing and it seems that it will not end before the Olympics.

While the US Navy warships LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney and FFG-50 USS Taylor are doing circles or “doughnuts” off the coast of Sochi, the Russians have called their Kashnin class destroyer Smetlivy back from the Mediterranean.

The large anti-submarine ship Smetlivy was laid in 1966 and commissioned in 1969. She is the sole remaining Kashin class destroyer and is attached to Russian Black Sea Fleet. She was refitted from 1990 till 1996. Though she is one of the oldest vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, she is still very active and made frequent deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean.

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USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor off the coast of Sochi.

As Smetlivy belongs to the Russian Black Sea Fleet her return to the Black Sea may be just the end of her regular deployment or and counter move to the two circling US navy warships off the coast of Sochi. It depends largely to your perspective and your perception of the news.

As I have said before and again, I believe the deployment of the two US Navy warships to the Black Sea is more political rather than practical as both ships lack the necessary means to conduct a civilian evacuation operation properly. They do not have (as far as I know) any marine detachments to provide security on shore around the civilians waiting for their evacuation at the deployment site nor enough boats or helicopters to ferry the civilians to the ships.

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USNS Spearhead, doing her circles in the North Aegean. Will she pass through the Turkish Straits?

Russia made it very clear that the US Navy presence is legal but not welcomed much. Well if Russians are unhappy about the US Navy ships off the coast of Sochi, I believe Russians are to blamed for this. If they have called in the multinational maritime security task force BlackSeaFor, to support them to secure the Olympics it would may prevented non Black Sea nations to mingle.

The BlackSeaFor consists of warships from Black Sea nations and the task force is activated twice a year (in April and in August). The main purpose of the BlackSeaFor was to cooperatively promote security and stability in the Black Sea maritime area and beyond. Fighting against terrorism was added when the scope of the BlackSeaFor was extended. With three NATO navies  (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania) among the participants, the BlackSeaFor is has the capability and the means to help the Russians to secure the maritime front of the Olympics and assure other nations to help their citizens if needed.

In the mean time another US (war)ship is making her doughnuts in the North Aegean: JHSV-1 USNS Spearhead. She  is the first ship in the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel (a very fancy name for ferryboat), to be operated by the Military Sealift Command and christened on 17 September 2011. Vessels similar to USNS Spearhead, from the same shipbuilder, are being used by Istanbul Fast Ferries to carry passengers and vehicles around Marmara Sea. If deployed to the Black Sea the USNS Spearhead would provide means to US Navy to mass evacuation of civilians.

Sailing Ship Kruzenshtern Passed Through Bosphrus

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Sailing ship Kruzenshtern passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used wtih permission.

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While the attention was turned to the passage of two US Navy warships to protect the US participants to the Sochi Olympics, the sailing vessel Kruzenshtern passed through the Bosphorus today.

Like the sailing ship Mir which passed last week, Kruzenshtern is heading to Sochi too.

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