USS Taylor Passed Through The Bosphorus

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USS Taylor passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

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USS Taylor passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

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USS Taylor passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

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USS Taylor passing through Bosphorus. Photo: Yörük Işık. Used with permission.

44 days later US Navy frigate FFG-50 USS Taylor returned to the Black Sea. On her own power.
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 a 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 were replaced.

There are no information about her current deployment to the Black Sea.

For further reading:
USS Taylor Passed Through Bosphorus Being Towed
USS Taylor Departs Samsun
USS Taylor Commanding Officer Relieved of Duty
Update On USS Taylor
USS Taylor Damaged In Samsun
USS Taylor In Samsun

Dissecting Jpost Op-ed “Turkey vulnerable to rising Russian power in the Black Sea”

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A ESSM missile being fired from a Mk-41 launcher on board of a Turkish frigate. But Mr. Tanchum tells us that these missiles will get into Turkish inventory in 2016. May be these are not the ESSM missiles Mr. Tanchum is looking for.

Yesterday, The Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by Micha’el Tanchum, which was first published in the Turkey Analyst.  This this op-ed Mr. Tanchum explains that:

With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea. A resurgent Russia may be tempted to exploit its temporary naval dominance to alter current Black Sea energy exploitation and transportation arrangements more in its favor and to the detriment of Turkey and its partners in the Caucasus.

While there a some aspects in this op-ed where I whole hearty agree there also some obvious and large material mistakes that raises questions about the credibility of the writer and his reason the write such a text.

Let’s start:

After gaining experience from the building of the slightly larger but more lethal TF 100 anti-air warfare frigates, Turkey then intends to build a series of TF 2000 frigates. Double the size of the TF 100, the TF 2000 anti-air warfare frigate will significantly advance the Turkish fleet’s transformation into a blue-water navy.

This is not correct. TF-2000 air defense ship project will supersede TF-100 project. TF-100 project is scheduled to start around 2020 to replace the MEKO 200 Track I frigates. On the other hand TF-2000 will be a major ship program and will form the mainstay of Turkish Navy with long range air defense sensors and weapons. TF-2000 is in early design phase and TF-100 does not exists even on blue-paper. Therefore it is not possible to say that one class of ships will be the double of the other as there is no data to compare at all. But I agree that TF-2000 will advance Turkish Navy into a blue-water navy.

The TF 100 frigates will be the first Turkish vessels to carry the American-manufactured RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) system capable of countering the current generation of supersonic anti-ship missiles.

It is absolutely and utterly false that TF-100 frigates are going to be the first ESSM capable ships in Turkish Navy. As you can see from the photo above Turkish Navy has today ESSM capable ships in operation. As the regular readers of this blog and people who really follow the developments in Turkish Navy know, Turkish Navy has installed Mk-41 vertical launcher systems in 4 of its 8 Gabya (ex Perry) class frigates. And the main 2D search radars of these 4 ships with Mk-41 are being replaced by 3D radars. The main reason for the installation of the Mk-41 is to use the ESSM missile which is incompatible with the Mk-13 launcher on these ships.In addition to 4 Gabya class frigates 2 MEKO 200 Track IIB class frigates have Mk-41 launchers. This 2 ships are also capable to use ESSM missiles. And this capability will be retrofitted to the 2 MEKO 200 Track IIA frigates when their Mk-29 launcher will be replaced by Mk-41 VLS.

 Turkey’s strategic vulnerability was not anticipated because of the view in Turkish policy circles that Turkey enjoys a relative parity with Russia in the Black Sea. However, the approximate parity exists only when Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is matched against all the major assets of the Turkish navy. Prior to the Crimean conflict, Russia’s Black Sea fleet consisted of 24 major surface combatants and one diesel submarine while Turkey’s major naval assets consist of approximately 24 surface combatants and 14 submarines. The parity is illusory as it is unlikely that Turkey would be able to deploy all or most of its naval assets in a Black Sea conflict.

I have always found making a comparison between Turkish and Russian Naval Forces very difficult as Russia has 3 other Fleets and it is not clear whether Turkey can mobilise all its major naval units to the Black Sea.
But I have difficulty to calculating Mr. Tanchum’s math on units numbers. The Turkish side is simple: 8 Gabya frigates + 8 MEKO 200 frigates + 6 Burak corvettes + 2 Ada corvettes and came up to 24 major surface units. On Russian side the math is not so simple. I have tired to remake Mr. Tanchum’s calculation based on Jane’s Fighting Ship reference book: 1 Slava cruiser + 1 Kara cruiser + 1 Kashin destroyer + 2 Krivak frigate + 6 Grisha frigate + 2 Sivuch corvettes + 5 Tarantul corvettes + 2 Nanuchka corvette makes 20 major surface units.
I have no idea where the other 4 units mentions in the op-ed were added to the Russian side. On the other hand if one is adding Tarantul and Nanuchka class ships to a comparison on Russian side then one has to add Yıldız and Karayel class fast attack craft on Turkish side. As in terms of displacement, on board weapons and sensors there is not much difference between Tarantul and Nanuchka class corvettes and Yıldız and Karayel class fast attack craft. Therefore I am thinking that Mr. Tanchum’s numbers are either biased or he has chosen his sample units poorly, which makes the above quoted comparison dubious.

With the annexation of Crimea, Turkey faces a stronger and bolder Russian naval power in the Black Sea. Russia now possesses the Ukrainian navy’s submarine and several, if not most, of Ukraine’s 11 major surface combatants. Even without the Ukraine’s naval assets, Russia’s own new additions to its Black Sea Fleet will enable Moscow to dominate the region. Russia recently put to sea the first of its six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates. All six frigates are designated for service in the Black Sea Fleet.

It is true that the annexed Ukrainian naval assets increased the roster of the Russian Black Sea Unit. But this is only on paper. In reality most of the Ukrainian units taken by Russians are unfit for service and pose no thread to anyone. There are some reports that Russia has started to return some of the Ukrainian naval units back to Ukraine as they are not fit for service in Russian Navy. The Ukrainian submarine Zaporizhzhya sized by Russian forces was declared unfit for service but is still in Russian hands. Thus until newly build naval units start to arrive in the Black Sea the enlargement of Russian Black Sea units through the influx of Ukrainian naval units is not realistic thread.

Russia’s own new additions to its Black Sea Fleet will enable Moscow to dominate the region. Russia recently put to sea the first of its six Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates. All six frigates are designated for service in the Black Sea Fleet.

It’s true that Russia wants to improve its Black Sea Fleet with new frigates and submarines. But it is wrong to assume that these ships are going to be an addition the current warships. On the contrary these new constructed warships will replace existing old warships which reached the end of their usefulness. Therefore these new warships will not increase the number of Russian warships in the Black Sea 1:1.

Within the same 2016 timeframe, Russia will also add six newly improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines to its Black Sea Fleet ahead of Turkey’s deployment of an equivalent number of Ada-class anti-submarine corvettes. These two Russian procurement programs alone will quickly tilt the balance of naval forces in Russia’s favor, giving Russia a significant strategic advantage for a window of four to eight years depending on the pace of Turkey’s resumed production schedule

The above quoted paragraph shows that making naval analysis is not Mr. Tanchum’s strong suit. He is fundamentally wrong in his assumption that the main Turkish adversary of the Russian Kilo class submarines will be the Ada class corvettes. One does not fight airplanes with SAM missiles. One does not fight enemy tanks with ATGMs. The main weapons Turkey will use against the Kilo class submarines that will start to enter into service in (at least) 3 years time will be the submarines Turkey possess.   And with 14 submarines in service Turkey has the strongest diesel-electric submarine force in NATO. These submarines are a huge force multiplier and one of our countries most important silent and deadly weapons. Six of the 14 submarines in Turkish inventory are nearing their useful life and they will be replaced by AIP Type 214 submarines. Even if Russian Black Sea Fleet enjoys an advantage in numbers for a time the air independent submarines will have the upper hand against the Russian submarines as they will not be AIP equipped.

It’s noteworthy that the new submarine construction programme of Turkey was never mentioned in this text.

Until Ankara can rectify the gap in naval capabilities created by MILGEM’s delays, Turkey will not be able to defend its national interests adequately as Russia attempts to reestablish its sphere of influence in the greater Black Sea region

During the Cold War the Black Sea was divided between NATO nation Turkey and 3 Warsaw Pact nations Bulgaria, Romania and USSR.  How we have 3 NATO nations Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania. Plus Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. With the annexation of Crime by Russia the status quo in the Black Sea which was created at the end of the Cold War has changed. But this change is not unmanageable for Ankara as long as we have a long term political goal and will toreach it.

It is beyond any doubt that the cancellation of Milgem construction tender given to RMK Marine shipyard has created a havoc among the Turkish naval armament projects. But believing this delay will hamper Turkey’s ability to defends its national interest is wish full thinking.

 

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?

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