SNMCMG-2 In Istanbul

SNMCMG-2 In Istanbul

SNMCMG-2 In Istanbul

The resolution of the photo is not excellent but it is good enough to recognize the shapes of the warships of SNMCMG-2 making a port visit in Istanbul.

The NATO taskforce arrived,  on 23 July 2014 in Istanbul, after making port visits in Varna Bulgaria and Constanta Romania. While in Bulgaria, the task force took part in the Bulgarian led naval exercise Breeze 2014.

USS Vella Gulf In Kuşadası

CG-72 USS Vella Gulf in Kuşadası. Dwarfed by the cruise liner Queen Elisabeth . Photo: aydinpost.com

On 3 July 2014 the US cruiser USS Vella Gulf arrived in Kuşadası for a port visit.

According to news reports the ship will stay till Sunday

SNMG-2 Is Back In Istanbul

Almost one year later, the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is in Istanbul again.

According to NATO Maritime Command web site the SNMG 2 is made up from the following ships: F-105 SPS Cristobal Colon as flagship, F-247 TCG Kemalreis, FFG-50 USS Taylor, 334 HMCS Regina and A-630 FS Marne. The task force, without the US and French warships arrived in Istanbul on 19 June 2014 afternoon.

The big question is where it will sail when their port visit is over? To the Black Sea or to the Mediterranean?

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F-247 TCG Kemalreis. Turkish contribution to SNMG-2. Last year her sister F-246 TCG Salihreis was with the task force.

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F-105 Cristobal Colon. Most if not all Álvaro de Bazán class ships served as the flagships of SNMG for in turn during the Spanish command of the task force.

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Long time no see: A Canadian warship in Istanbul. FFH-334 HMCS Regina.

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F-105 Cristobal Colon. The flagships of SNMG.

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US made Bushmaster as CIWS instead of indigenous Meroka!? What was the reason for this decision? space or weight limitations or performance issues?

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F-105 Cristobal Colon. The flagships of SNMG.

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FFH-334 HMCS Regina. The side of the funnel is an unusual place to install Sea Sparrow SAM missiles.

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FFH-334 HMCS Regina.

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FFH-334 HMCS Regina.

Turkish Navy Training Ships In Venice

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A-577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa and A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa in Venice. Photo: Dilek Yaylalı.

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A-577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa in Venice. Photo: Dilek Yaylalı.

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A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa in Venice. Photo: Dilek Yaylalı.

The two training ships of the Turkish Navy A-577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa and A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa are cruising in Mediterranean with the Turkish Naval Petty Officer Vocational School on board.

Every year the cadets take part in these open sea cruises as a port of their training.

During this year’s cruise the two ships will visit Split, Croatia, Venice, Italy, İzmir and Çanakkale before returning to home.

The above photos show the ship during their visit to Venice, Italy between 18 and 23 May 2014.

FS Var In Marmaris

A-608 FS Var in Marmaris. Photo: yeniasir.com

A-608 FS Var in Marmaris. Photo: yeniasir.com

French Durance class underway replenishment tanker A-608 FS Var arrived in Marmaris in the morning hours on 5 April 2014.

Although it was not disclosed how long the ship will stay in Marmaris, it is safe to assume that the port visit will take at least 3 days. It was reported that FS Var is going back to France after completing her deployment for NATO’s Active Endeavor in Eastern Mediterranean.

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.

USS Mount Whitney Left Istanbul

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The Blue Ridge class command and control ship LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney, leaving Istanbul, this morning.

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The Blue Ridge class command and control ship LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney, leaving Istanbul, this morning.

After a well deserved 3 day port visit in Istanbul at quarter to 9:00 am, the flagship of the 6. US Fleet, USS Mount Whitney left Istanbul heading towards the Mediterranean. This is the formal end of the US Navy’s Olympic Games Deployment.

USS Taylor is still in Samsun harbour in the meantime. The fate of the stricken frigate USS Taylor is still undecided. It is not clear how long the repair work will continue.

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 Mount Whitney In Istanbul

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After drawing endless circles in the water for 20 days between 4 and 24 February 2014, the flagship of the 6th US Navy Fleet, USS Mount Whitney have arrived in Istanbul.

To be honest I was expecting her to pass through the Bosphorus and head straight for Mediterranean but she is conducting a well deserved port visit in Istanbul. I am expecting the US Navy frigate USS Taylor to pass through the Bosphorus. She has turned her AIS transponder off, yesterday. This means that she has left Samsun and is underway towards Istanbul. It seems that the repair work done to her propeller has worked and she is  underway under her own power.

The quality of the photos of USS Mount Whitney left much to be desired but it was raining heavy as she passed where I was standing and there was a very bitter and strong north wind. If the weather improves tomorrow I might have some better photos.

 

 

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