Russian Warship Movements Through Turkish Straits (Part 44)

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012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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102 Kaliningrad passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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102 Kaliningrad passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

This morning in the early hours, two Russian Ropucha class landing ships 102 Kaliningrad from Baltic Fleet and 012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak from Northern Fleet have passed through Bosphorus as they were returning from their Syrian Express deployment.

Both ship made their southbound passage through Bosphorus on 23 March 2014.

The list of Russian warship movements in 2014:

Date Number Name Direction
02/01/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Northbound
02/01/14 156 Yamal Northbound
18/01/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Southbound
18/01/14 151 Azov Southbound
27/01/14 102 Kaliningrad Southbound
01/02/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Northbound
01/02/14 151 Azov Northbound
07/02/14 810 Smetlivy Northbound
10/02/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Southbound
10/02/14 151 Azov Southbound
20/02/14 150 Saratov Southbound
20/02/14 156 Yamal Southbound
26/02/14 102 Kaliningrad Northbound
26/02/14 127 Minsk Northbound
04/03/14 150 Saratov Northbound
04/03/14 156 Yamal Northbound
23/03/14 012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak Southbound
23/03/14 102 Kaliningrad Southbound
23/03/14 127 Minsk Southbound
03/04/14 012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak Northbound
03/04/14 102 Kaliningrad Southbound

I have archived the list of the Russian ship movements in 2013.

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/

Fishing Wars, Aegean Style (Part 2)

The fishing wars in Northern Aegean goes on. Today a new video was released showing a dog fight (I don’t know if this is a correct term to use on sea) between Turkish and Greek Coast Guard vessels.

Being smaller the Greek boat has a higher degree of maneuverability but the Kaan 33 class, Turkish Coast Guard boat TCSG-308 was able to prevented the Greek Coast Guard boats coming to close to Turkish fishing boats.

 

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

Russian Warship Movements Through Turkish Straits (Part 43)

As the Russian landing ship were busily occupied in transporting Russian military units to Crime they have remained in the Black Sea. Therefore there has been less to report about their passage to the Mediterranean.

On 23 March 2014 , the Ropucha class landing ship of Russian Northern Fleet, 012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak made a sound bound passage through the Bosphorus.

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012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Mrs. Eser Çelebiler. Used with permission.

The list of Russian warship movements in 2014:

Date Number Name Direction
02/01/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Northbound
02/01/14 156 Yamal Northbound
18/01/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Southbound
18/01/14 151 Azov Southbound
27/01/14 102 Kaliningrad Southbound
01/02/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Northbound
01/02/14 151 Azov Northbound
07/02/14 810 Smetlivy Northbound
10/02/14 016 Georgiy Pobedonosets Southbound
10/02/14 151 Azov Southbound
20/02/14 150 Saratov Southbound
20/02/14 156 Yamal Southbound
26/02/14 102 Kaliningrad Northbound
26/02/14 127 Minsk Northbound
04/03/14 150 Saratov Northbound
04/03/14 156 Yamal Northbound
23/03/14 012 Olenegorskiy Gorniak Southbound

I have archived the list of the Russian ship movements in 2013.

Turkish Navy Naval Parade In Dardanelles

On 18 March,we have celebrated the victory of against the Allied Fleet in 1915.  I am honored and delighted to share some of the excellent photos Mr. Ahmet Güven, a very dear contributor to these blog before shared these beautiful photos.

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A-579 TCG Cezayirli Hasan Paşa passing through Dardanelles.

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis anchored at Dardanelles.

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis anchored at Dardanelles.

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis anchored at Dardanelles.

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis anchored at Dardanelles.

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis anchored at Dardanelles.

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis anchored at Dardanelles. At the background from left to right P-330 TCG Kılıç, P-335 TCG Imbat, P-334 TCG Meltem, P-337 TCG Atak

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F-241 TCG Turgutreis anchored at Dardanelles

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F-241 TCG Turgutreis anchored at Dardanelles

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F-241 TCG Turgutreis anchored at Dardanelles

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F-241 TCG Turgutreis anchored at Dardanelles

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SG-701 TCSG Dost at Dardanelles

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SG-701 TCSG Dost at Dardanelles

A Submarine Sighted

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A Turkish Type 209/1400 Preveze/Gür class submarine passing through the Bosphorus

Today on 19 March  2014, in the early morning hours, one Turkish Type 209 / 1400 class submarine sailed through Bosphorus to Marmara Sea. I want to hope that she has spent very busy days back in the Black Sea monitoring all the naval traffic and gathering intelligence. 

Since Turkish Navy stopped painting the pennant number of the submarines on their hulls, it is impossible to identify each individual submarine anymore. While this new painting scheme helps the submarines to blend and prevents IR/FLIR/LLTV using trackers or electro-optic directors any high contrast target, it makes ship spotting difficult.

With 6 Type 209/1200, 4 Type 209/1400 and 4 Modified Type 209/1400 class submarines in service, Turkey has the largest conventional submarine fleet in the NATO.

Turkish Task Force Starts Its Circumnavigation Of Africa

TDGGTomorrow, on 17 March 2014, the Barbaros Turkish Maritime Task Group will leave Turkish Naval Base in Gölcük to starts its circumnavigation of Africa.

The task force will contain the frigates F-495 TCG Gediz, F-245 TCG Oruçreis, the corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada and the replenishment tanker A-595 TCG Yarbay Kudret Güngör.

During the deployment, which is expected to take 102 days, Barbaros TMTG will navigate round the African continent from west to east and will make 40 port visits in 28 countries and conduct military exercises with their navies.

It will be the first crossing of Cape of Hope by Turkish ships after 148 years. The ships will travel for about 15,000 nautical miles approximately 30,000 km throughout their sail.

This deployment is not just a navigational exercise of circumnavigation around Africa. It is also a powerful application of Turkish soft power to Africa. During the last decade Turkey finally realized that there is more Africa than just the Mediterranean countries where Turkey had links for centuries. With the discovery of sub Saharan Africa Turkish entrepreneurs started to do business with these countries. They were followed quickly by missions of Turkish Foreign Ministry and flights from Turkish Airlines.

As I learn more about the details of the activities planed during this deployment more I understand how much background work must have been done to make this happen. Below are the some highlights of the planned activities:

  • Turkish defence companies Meteksan, Otokar, TAI, Dearsan, Havelsan, Roketsan, Aselsan, STM will show their products in following cities:

Thema, Ghana
Lagos, Nigeria
Luanda, Angola
Dar es Salaam Tanzania
Mombasa, Kenya

  • Turkish Ministry of Health will conduct health checks and provide medical assistance in following cities:

Banjul Gambia
Dakar, Senegal,
Port of Sudan, Sudan

  • Military music bands will perform concerts in following cities:

Las Palmas, Spain
Conakry, Guinea
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Pointe-Noire, Congo
Cape Town, South Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mombasa, Kenya
Djibouti, Djibouti
Port of Sudan, Sudan

  • Members of Multinational Maritime Security Centre of Excellence will conduct maritime security and boarding training in following cities:

Lagos, Nigeria
Pointe-Noire, Congo
Luanda, Angola
Simon’s Town, South Africa
Mombasa, Kenya

  • There will be theoretical training in all ports of call.
  • Various high-ranking Turkish officers will visit their counterparts in 17 different cities.

This deployment of Barbaros TMTG is not just about hearts and minds either.

The frigate F-245 TCG Oruçreis will take part in Obangame Express Exercise between 19 and 21 April 2014. Obangame Express, conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.  It focuses on maritime interdiction operation, as well as visit, board, search, and seizure techniques.

The two frigates and the corvette will conduct live missile firing exercise in Denel Overberg Test Range between 5 and 9 May 2014. There they will test their skills to the limits.

And when the Barbaros TMTG reaches Gulf of Aden it will conduct anti piracy operations between 5 and 11 June 2014.

This deployment is one of most meticulous prepared foreign deployments of Turkish Navy and a text-book example how nations can use their military to gain affection abroad. But not everybody is sharing my sentiments.

Admiral Nusret Güner, who had resigned to protest the Sledgehammer and other trials when he was expected to become the Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, after a 1.5-year tenure as the head of the Fleet Command, criticized the upcoming African campaign of the Turkish Navy, pointing out the tensions in the Black Sea over the Crimean crisis .

The Black Sea waters are boiling because of what’s happening in Crimea and Ukraine. The United States and Russia are playing chess. They make moves one after another. When there is an imminent risk of clash, it’s an unacceptable situation that the Turkish Naval Forces are engaged in an African campaign in a way that they weaken their presence in the region,” Güner told daily Hürriyet.

Güner said he considers the African campaign as a wrong move for one more reason, which is the current status of Turkish naval forces. “The Sledgehammer trial and other legal cases have weakened the professional experience and skills of the Navy staff,” he said.

I agree with Mr. Güner’s remarks that the Black Sea waters are boiling and the shady trials against the Turkish high-ranking officers mostly from Naval Forces has created a havoc among the ranks of Turkish Navy. But I do not think that these are enough reasons to cancel the deployment of Barbaros TMTG. As being the former Commander of Turkish Naval Fleet, he must be in a better situation to judge the strengths and weaknesses of our navy but if we cannot spare 2 frigates and one corvette out of our fleet of 16 frigates and 8 corvettes, then something is not correct.

Even if the points made by Mr. Güner are correct we have other means to counter them. We have a good fleet of submarines that can creep very close to Crimea and gather very important intelligence. If we have to show the flag in the Black Sea we have many fast attack craft and some long range coast guard vessels that can fulfill the mission even if we cannot spare any of the 14 frigates left.

It is a very big pity that because of the shady trials many aspiring high-ranking officers are behind the bars today. The loss of their collective expertise and experience is a big blow to our navy. But expertise and experience are not gained by staying at home. They are gained by daring to new adventures and going to places that are new. Barbaros TMTG is just going to do that.

Cassard In Marmaris

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FS Cassard in exercise with USS George H.W. Bush.

The French frigate D-614 FS Cassard arrived in Marmaris for a port visit.

Before arriving in Marmaris, the French warship stationed in Eastern Mediterranean, conducted “PASSEX” exercise with the U.S. aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush.

Unlike her sister D-615 FS Jean Bart the main radar of FS Cassard has not been upgraded. She still has the original DRBJ 11B 3 D radar. This radar was replaced with a SMART-S Mk2 on FS Jean Bart.

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