FS Dupuy de Lôme Passed Through Turkish Straits

Today the French intelligence collection ship FS Dupuy de Lôme passed through Turkish Straits too, following the US destroyer USS Donald Cook.

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French spy ship FS Dupuy de Lôme passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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French spy ship FS Dupuy de Lôme passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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French spy ship FS Dupuy de Lôme passing through the Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

The French Navy has been usually active in last couple of weeks in this region:

On 28 March 2014, FS Alizé, diving support ship used by the French external intelligence agency passed through Turkish Straits. She took part in a naval exercise in Varna, Bulgaria. I have no idea about her present whereabouts, but she could be still in the Black Sea.

On 7 April 2014, FS Var, replenishment tanker arrived in Marmaris for a 3 day port visit.

On 14 April 2014 we expect the destroyer FS Dupleix to pass through the Turkish Straits.

But by far the intelligence gathering ship FS Dupuy de Lôme will be the most controversial one. She is fitted with COMINT and ELINT equipment.  Her helicopter pad might be used to launch and recover unmanned air vehicles which can carry additional intelligence gathering sensors. According to Jane’s Fighting Ship,  the ship is available for 350 days a year and active for 240 days.

May be France is better in making strategic communication at a level that can be correctly interpreted by Russians by sending two spy ships to the back yard of the Russians.

USS Donald Cook Passed Through Turkish Straits

Today the long-awaited US warship, Arleigh Burke class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passed through Turkish Straits.

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Arleigh Burke class (Flight II) class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Arleigh Burke class (Flight II) class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Arleigh Burke class (Flight II) class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Arleigh Burke class (Flight II) class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Arleigh Burke class (Flight II) class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

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Arleigh Burke class (Flight II) class destroyer DDG-75 USS Donald Cook passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

She has entered to the Dardanelles at 07.00 in the morning and passed through Bosphorus at 16.00.

She is the second warship USA has send to the Black Sea since the start of the Crimean crisis. The other ship was DDG-103 USS Truxtun.

The Russian Foreign Ministry is fuming against Turkey over the practice of the Montreux Convention. But I remember very well back in 2008 they were praising Turkey over the practice of Montreux Convention when due to technical limitations US Navy hospital ships were not allowed to pass through Turkish Straits.

The arrival of a new US Navy warship to the Black Sea will not make things easier and she is not only non-Black Sea Navy ship in the region. The French warship FS Alizé is  believed still to be in the Black Sea and today the French ELINT/SIGINT ship FS Dupuy de Lôme also passed through the Bosphorus.

And there are still 7 frigates, 1 corvette, 2 submarines, 8 fast attack craft, 1 mine hunter, 3 auxiliaries of Turkish Navy in the Black Sea. These units have not returned from the Deniz Yıldızı 2014 exercise yet.

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.

USS Taylor Passed Through Bosphorus Being Towed

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USS Taylor being towed by the tug Coastal Voyager. The tug Kurtaran 1 from Turkish Coastal Safety Agency is preventing the ship from drifting at the back. Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-90 is providing security.

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This photo show the third tug, again from Turkish Coastal Safety Agency. She was on the starboard side of USS Taylor during her passage through Bosphorus, preventing the ship from drifting by the currents

The Arleigh Burke class destroyer DDG-103 USS Truxtun is the only US warship in the Black Sea as today with the southbound passage of FF(G)-50 USS Taylor through the Bosphorus.

The Perry class frigate was deployed to the Black Sea before the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games started. USS Taylor and the flag ship of the US 6th Fleet USS Mount Whitney were send to the Black Sea to help with the evacuation of US athletes and spectators in case of an terror attack to the Games.

USS Taylor had a grounding in Samsun harbour on 12 February 2014 as she arrived here for refueling. Her only propeller was damaged during the accident and all the work done to repair the ship turned out to be not effective.

US Navy contracted the company DonJon specialized in marine salvage and towing, to tow USS Taylor to Souda Crete where her propeller hub and blades will be replaced. 

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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.

USS Truxtun Passed Through The Bosphorus

As reported few days ago by US Navy, the Arleigh Burke class destroyer DDG-103 USS Truxtun passed through the Turkish Straits on 7 March 2013 and entered the Black Sea.

According the official US Navy press release the destroyer is en route to conduct combined training and theater security cooperation engagements in the Black Sea with Romanian and Bulgarian Naval forces. USS Truxtun, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region.

US Navy careful stresses that USS Truxtun‘s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States. But the political crisis between Russia and Ukraine over the fate of Crimea makes this deployment of USS Truxtun to the region a special one.

A strong storm front is coming from the north. In literary and figurative sense of the word USS Truxtun is sailing into a storm.

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Ms. Eser Çelebiler, kindly share her photos of the USS Truxtun as she passed through Bosphorus.
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Mr. Kerim Bozkurt, an invaluable contributor to this blog also shared his photos of the USS Truxtun as she passed through Bosphorus.
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A Primer On The Montreux Convention

500px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svgThis just a short primer on the Montreux Convention that regulates the passage of Merchant and warship through Turkish Straits.

Signed on 20 July 1936, The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits gives Turkey full control over the Turkish Straits, guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime and permits Turkey to remilitarise the Turkish Straits.

  1. The aim of the Montreux Convention is to regulate the passage of civilian and military ships through the Turkish Straits.
  2. The term Turkish Straits covers the Dardanelles, Marmara Sea and the Bosporus.
  3. The Convention makes a clear differentiation between Black Sea countries (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia) and non-Black Sea countries.
  4. Merchant vessels enjoy a total freedom of passage through the Turkish Straits.  Turkish Straits Vessel Traffic Services Centre regulates the passages according to the Maritime Traffic Regulations for the Turkish Straits dated 1998.
  5. The Black Sea Countries;
    • cannot pass warships solely designed to carry airplanes through Turkish Straits.
    • can pass submarines if they are joining their base in the Black Sea for the first time after their construction or purchase, or if they are returning from a repair in dockyards outside the Black Sea.
    • can pass their warships through Turkish Straits by notifying Turkey through diplomatic channels 8 days before the passage.
  6. The Non Black Sea Countries;
    • cannot pass warships solely designed to carry airplanes through Turkish Straits.
    • cannot pass submarines.
    • can pass warships, but the aggregate displacement of the foreign warships in the Black Sea may not exceed 45.000 tons.
    • cannot hold their ships in the Black Sea longer than 21 days.
    • cannot have more than 9 ships in the Black Sea at the same time
    • can pass their warships through Turkish Straits by notifying Turkey through diplomatic channels 15 days before the passage.

For further reading:

  • The full text of the Montreux Convention can be found here.
  • The official Turkish stand of the implementation of  the Montreux Convention can be found here.

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?

Update On USS Taylor

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo:www.6n1k.com.tr

Today the governor of Samsun made a written statement about the damage of US Navy frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor.

According to this statement,  initially USS Taylor arrived in Samsun on 12 February, for a very short port visit just to get refueled. Unfortunately the ships propeller stuck the sea ground and got damaged. She has been docked at Samsun port since then. 39 US citizens and all the equipment needed for the repair were flown. Divers from Turkish Coast Guard are escorting the repair work going on underwater. It is estimated that USS Taylor will stay in Samsun till 24 February 2014.

If it takes additional 39 people and an disclosed amount of extra equipment and material to be flown for the repair work, the damage is worse that initially reported.

USS Taylor Damaged In Samsun

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo:www.6n1k.com.tr

Foreign ships visiting Turkish harbors usually stay for 3 or 4 days. Thus I was quite curious about the extended stay of us Perry class frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun, Turkey.  I my opinion she should have left three days ago Samsun in order to join USS Mount Whitney off the coast of Sochi to do circles.

A short news article in gave a very plausible explanation why the stay of USS Taylor was extended. Apparently her screw touched the ground when she was mooring in Samsun harbour. According the Vice Governor of Samsun, Haluk Şimşek the screw of the ship touched the bottom of the sea when the ship was maneuvering for docking and it was damaged. There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation. So is the damage to the ship. There was a minor spill of about 176 gallons of fuel, according to a report from ABC News

The Perry class ships  have one shaft and one screw. This was a deliberate and a very bold decision by US Navy in order to keep the production simple and cheap. But having one single shaft and screw creates an Achilles Heel for the Perry class ships as if there is a damage to a shaft, screw or to rudder it is very much possible that the ship lost is ability to move. The Perry class is equipped with an auxiliary propulsion system to take the ship back to port if it looses its main propulsion. But this auxiliary system is not much help in the case of USS Taylor.

Samsun harbour is notorious. An Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Barry had a similar incident back in 2008. She was able to sail without any restrictions afterwards. 

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