The Flying Frenchman

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This was brought to my attention by my fellow ship spotter Mr. Alper Böler. He was looking for the ships taking part in Sea Shield exercise off the coast of Romania he noticed that the French F-70 class destroyer D-643 FS Jean de Vienne was sending her AIS signals from the Black Sea.

This was odd as her passage through the Turkish Straits was totally unobserved which is not impossible but highly improbable.
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The ship tracking site Marine Traffic noted her last position to be in the Black Sea 43,24472° N and 30,26093° E.on 21 July 2015. But when looked to her older position recording one day ago she was in Tyrrhenian Sea at 41,41823°N and 9,4666° on 20 July 2015.

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The distance between these two coordinates is about 1300 nautical miles depending on the course taken. If she really made that trip in the given time frame she must have sailed at least with a speed of 54 knots. This is almost the double of her indicated top speed of 30 knots.

So here we have either a real flying Frenchman (her high-speed must have made her observance from the shores impossible as she passed through the Turkish Straits) or the AIS transponder is not correctly configured. Her real whereabouts is still a mystery to me.

Sea Shield 2015 Naval Exercise

TCG Atılay passing through Istanbul, on her way to the Sea Shiel 2015 naval exercise in Romania. Photo: Alper Böler. Used with permission.

TCG Atılay passing through Istanbul, on her way to the Sea Shiel 2015 naval exercise in Romania. Photo: Alper Böler. Used with permission.

The Romanian led naval exercise Sea Shield 2015 has started on 20 July 2015.

The exercise will last till 24 July 2015 and is aimed at developing international cooperation in the defense area with similar structures of NATO member and partner states to strengthen and develop common procedures for battle.

Anti submarine warfare training is an important aspect of the exercise. The Turkish submarine S-347 TCG Atılay is acting as the hunter and the hunted. Turkey is the only NATO country that has operational submarines in the Black Sea. TCG Atılay is the first foreign submarine to visit Constanta in 7 years.

Of the other NATO countries Bulgaria has decommissioned its sole Romeo (Project 633) class BNS Slava in 2011 and terminated Bulgaria’s submarine force after 94 years. And Romania has one Kilo (Project 636) class submarine ROS Delfinul, which is in reserve status.

Standing NATO Maritime Group One is taking part in this exercise while SNMCMG-2 has left the Black Sea on 14 July 2015.

Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny is also taking part in this exercise.

Below is the list of the participants to this exercise:

Number Name Type Nationality
11 BGS Smeli Corvette Bulgaria
P-68 Daniolos Attack craft Greece
F-803 HNLMS Tromp Frigate Netherlands
F-334 NRP Francisco De Almeida Frigate Portugal
30 ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente Mine hunter Romania
188 ROS Zborul Corvette Romania
190 ROS Lăstunul Corvette Romania
264 ROS Cam. Eustaţiu Sebastian Corvette Romania
265 ROS Cam. Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Frigate Romania
F-222 ROS Regina Maria Frigate Romania
ROS Grozavul Tug Romania
F-240 TCG Yavuz Frigate Turkey
S-347 TCG Atılay Submarine Turkey
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachny Frigate Ukraine

Multinational Maritime Security Center of Excellence Trains Ukrainian Sailors

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The group photo of the Ukrainian and Turkish participants on board of frigate Hetman Sahaidachny. Photo: Turkish Navy.

The mobile training team of the Multinational Maritime Security Center of Excellence (MARSEC COE) trained the vessel boarding and inspection team of Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny.

The training was held between 15 and 18 June 2015, in Odessa Naval Base and on board of the frigate Hetman Sahaidachny.

The MARSEC COE is based in Aksaz Naval Base, in Marmaris Turkey, with the mission to support UN, NATO, partner countries and maritime security stakeholders by providing subject matter expertise on comprehensive approach with all levels and aspects of maritime security. Turkey provides 64 percent of the manning.

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PLAN Frigates In Black Sea

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Close up photos of the PLAN frigates. All photos by Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

After I have posted about the passage of PLAN frigates 550 Weifang and 547 Linyi more information and photos have emerged.

Mr. Mommsen from Marine Forum Magazine share the following information:

belong to 19th Chinese Navy anti-piracy task group which in the Gulf of Aden obviously has been relieved by arrived 20th Group … expect them to head for Sevastopol to participate in Russian “Victory Day” celebrations/naval parade on 09 May … afterwards return to Mediterranean … they are the ships earmarked (together with replenishment ship WEISHAN HU?) for announced exercise with Russian Navy (permanent MedSqn) … Chinese anti-piracy task groups upon completion of their missions in the Gulf of Aden routinely conduct visits to foreign countries (Europe, around Africa) before heading home.

The always informative Black Sea News states that at least one of the frigates is heading to Novorossiysk.

However, according to sources BSNews , frigates (or, at least, one of them) are sent to Novorossiysk to participate in activities in connection with the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany.

So in a few days time we will definitely have more information about this deployment.

SNMG-2 Arrived In Constanta

SNMG2 exercising with Turkish Navy

SNMG-2 exercising with Turkish Navy in the Black Sea. Photo: NATO MARCOM

After spending the week on the high seas, the ships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 arrived in Constanta, Romania, on 13 March 2015 for a scheduled 3 day port visit.

SNMG2 is currently composed of the flagship CG-69 USS Vicksburg, 337 HMCS Fredericton, F-241 TCG Turgutreis, A-1442 FGS Spessart, F-574 ITS Aliseo and F-222 ROS Regina Maria.

According to the spokesperson of the Naval Forces General Staff, lieutenant-colonel Corneliu Pavel, during the stopover in Romania of the SNMG-2, scheduled between March 13-15, visits of the foreign military officials are programmed at the Fleet Command, as well as sporting competitions between the Romanian and foreign sailors that will be hosted on the campus of the Mircea cel Batran Naval Academy and visits by the crews of the ships to the Romanian Navy Museum. 

“The SNMG-2 activities will continue at sea, starting with Monday, March 16, with exercises being programmed together with the Marasesti frigate, two corvettes, two missile-bearing ships, as well as with Romanian military airships”, the spokesperson added. 

SNMG-2 Arrives In Varna

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Bulgarian frigate BNS Drazki, in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton arriving to Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Turkish frigate TCG Turgutreis arriving to Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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German tanker FGS Spessart in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Italian frigate ITS Alieso in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

The ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2) arrived to-day to the Bulgarian port Varna. There is a very strong north wind in the Black Sea throughout the weekend and I think the sailors are happy to be in a port in this weather. According to the excellent Bulgarian blog SeaDog, the flagship of the task force USS Vicksburg did not enter the harbor due to strong winds. She is expected to arrive on 8 March 2015.

“Our Sailors are excited to visit Varna and to interact with the people who represent this city and nation,” said Rear Admiral Williamson. “More importantly, we are looking forward to getting back underway and training with the professional mariners of the Bulgarian Navy.”

During the port visit, SNMG2 leadership will meet with local Bulgarian authorities and Navy officials to discuss numerous issues of shared importance, to include exercises in the Black Sea.

SNMG2 is in the Black Sea as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the region to assure NATO Allies of the Alliance’s commitment to collective defense. During the deployment, SNMG2 ships are training with ships from the Bulgarian, Romanian and Turkish Navies.

According to Russian websites the first two ship of the task force to enter the Black Sea USS Vicksburg and TCG Turgutreis were greeted by Russian Su-24 and Su-30 warplanes.

Status Update on Russian Warships In The Black Sea

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Russian training ship Perekop making a northbound passage through Bosphorus in July 2013.

 

The informative and excellent Ukrainian website Black Sea New reported that the Russian training ship Perekop is being repaired in Varna Naval shipyard.

Training ship of the 1st rank “Perekop” (200) complete repairs on the Bulgarian shipyard “Naval Arsenal” (Varna) in July 2015, reports Flot.com . At present, Russian designers are beginning to test samples of hull structures and cables to determine the remaining life of the ship.
As reported BSNews , “Perekop” (200) arrived in Varna 20 August 2013.

Mooring factory testing of the Criminal Code “Perekop” 877 project is expected to begin in the summer of 2015. This information is placed in the record of procurement “51 Central Design and Technological Institute of ship repair” the Defense Ministry, establish the technical documentation for the repair and modernization of the ship.”

In the mean time the Krivak class frigate Ladny, made a post repair acceptance sail.

“Patrol ship “Well,” returned to base in Sevastopol with its maiden voyage after repairs to the “13 ship-repair factory of the Black Sea Fleet.”
Sources Central Navy Portal on the Black Sea Fleet told that TFR “OK” in the morning of December 17, 2014 from 12 mooring berth of Sevastopol and went on his first outing in the sea after the repair.
Head of Press Service of the Black Sea Fleet, Vyacheslav Trukhachev confirmed that the plan “OK” has already had to start the combat training missions.
The base ship returned on 19 December. Thus, the campaign ship lasted 1.5 days. TSVMP learned that for many sailors the access to the sea was the first. “Well,” made ​​a trip along the Crimean coast line, in which the sailors worked actions during various alarms and got acquainted with the equipment of the ship. In 2013 – 2014 years in the “13 ship-repair Factory Black Sea Fleet “was held in Sevastopol ship repair, which was completed in the summer of 2014.”

SNMG-2 Arrives In Varna

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HMCS Toronto entering into Varna harbour. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon arriving in Varna harbour.  Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

Task Unit 2 of SNMG-2 consisting of F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate FHH-333 HMCS Toronto arrived in Varna Bulgaria today.

Led by Commander Jason Armstrong (Royal Canadian Navy), SNMG2 TU.02 is currently composed of HMCS TORONTO (Royal Canadian Navy) and AMIRALTE JUAN de BORBON (Spanish Navy).  SNMG2 is visiting the port as part of the Group’s deployment to the Black Sea to enhance maritime security and NATO’s readiness in the region.

“This visit has been planned for quite some time, and in light of current events it; has become all the more significant,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, Commander SNMG2 TU.02. “We are delighted to come and train together, eager to enhance our mutual understanding, and eager to bring a strong message to Bulgarian people and to all Allied Nations regarding NATO’s resolve and commitment to collective defence.

Constanta, Romania was the Task Force’s previous port of call.

On 16 September 2014, under the banner of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) Task Unit 02 (TU02), HMCS TORONTO, ESPS ALMIRANTE JUAN DE BORBON and ROS REGELE FERNIDAND have completed their 4 day visit to Constanta, Romania. The port visit served to reaffirm the Alliance’s commitment to maritime defence and security and reassure Black Sea NATO Allies.

“Our ships were honoured and humbled to be a part of NATO’s maritime visit to the historic city as Constanta, Romania,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, Commanding Officer of HMCS TORONTO and Commander of SNMG2 Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU02). “Our presence here serves to reaffirm NATO’s strong support and commitment to Alliance solidarity.”

Visit the excellent blog Sea Dog for more photos from SNMG-2.

Sea Breeze 2014 Participants

U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs shared the list of the ships that take part in the naval Exercise Sea Breeze 2014.

As reported earlier, the Turkish frigate TCG Oruçreis and the French frigate Commandant Birot are not taking part in the exercise though both ships are currently deployed in the Black Sea. The list of US Navy fails to clarify if the Georgian patrol boat Sukhomi is taking part in the exercise as reported by Russian.

It is also noteworthy that there are no Bulgarian participants.

Number
Name
Country
Type
F-512
TCG Büyükada
Turkey
Corvette
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon  Spain Frigate
F-333 HMCS Toronto Canada Frigate
DDG-71 USS Ross USA Destroyer
P-24 Sukhumi Georgia Patrol Boat
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Romania Frigate
F-264 Contraamiral Eustatiu Sebastian Romania Corvette
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachniy Ukraine Frigate
U-153 Priluki Ukraine Patrol Boat
U-120 Skadovsk Ukraine Patrol Boat
U-512 Pereyaslav Ukraine Intelligence Gathering Ship
U-542 Nova Kahovka Ukraine Training Ship
U-782 Sokal Ukraine Ambulance launch
BG-50 Kuropyannikov Ukraine Coast Guard Vessel
B-57 Mikolaiv Ukraine Coast Guard Vessel

Sea Breeze 2014 Naval Exercise Starts Next Week (UPDATED)

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F-512 TCG Büyükada heading to the Black Sea to take part in Sea Breeze 2014 exercise on 7 September 2014. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permisson.

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F-512 TCG Büyükada heading to the Black Sea to take part in Sea Breeze 2014 exercise on 7 September 2014. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permisson.

Despite my previous reporting and expectations the Turkish frigate TCG Oruçreis is not going to take part in the exercise Sea Breeze. Her deployment to the Black Sea must a regular one with national interests at heart.

The Milgem class corvette F-512 TCG Büyükada is going participate in the Sea Breeze according to the Turkish General Staff.

Click here to read about the previous Sea Breeze Exercises.

I have compiled the list of the ships that will take part in the exercise:

Number
Name
Country
Type
F-512
TCG Büyükada
Turkey
Corvette
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon  Spain Frigate
F-333 HMCS Toronto Canada Frigate
DDG-71 USS Ross USA Destroyer
P-24 Sukhumi Georgia Patrol Boat
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Romania Frigate
F-796 Commandant Birot France Frigate
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