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.

TCSG Umut In Durres

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The Chief of General Staff of the Albanian Armed Forces, General Major Jeronim Bazo visiting TCSG Umut in Durrës. Photo: Albanian Military Forces

The Turkish Coast Guard vessel SG-703 TCSG Umut is visiting Durrës, Albania.

She arrived on 2 December 2013 and will stay in Durrës till 4 December. During her long-range deployment and endurance trails, TCSG Umut is making history. Her visit is probable the first official visit of a Turkish Coast Guard vessel in this country. Last week the ship was in Messina Italy, which was a first too.

Turkish Navy give emphasis to its relations with Albania and Turkish warships even submarines visit Albanian ports quite regularly.

Interior Minister Samir Tahiri and Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako visited Turkish coast guard vessel TCSG UMUT, who arrived the morning of 2 December at the port of Durres. 

Albanian dignitaries are expected by the commander of the ship captain of the first rank Ertan Balxhi (Balci), Commissioner of the ship captain of the first rank Xhynejt (Cuneyt) Kara and other officers. The meeting was attended Roland Xhelilaj mayor and county council chairman Alfred Mullaraj Durres. 

The commander of the ship TCSG UMUT and other military expressed its satisfaction at the visit Durres. It discussed issues relating to military cooperation within NATO and the friendship that exists between the Albanian and Turkish. 

The biggest ship of the Turkish coast guard TCSG UMUT with a crew of 90 persons, including 15 officers, has come to the port of Durres in the implementation of the plan of bilateral military cooperation between our country and the Republic of Turkey in 2013. The purpose of this visit is to exchange experience between the naval forces of Albania and Turkish naval forces as well as the participation of the Turkish ship in a joint exercise.

For further reading:
TCG Anafartar in Durrës
TCG Dolunay In Durrës
TCG Heybeliada In Durrës

The Mediterranean Cruise of TCG Heybeliada

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The children from an Egyptian orphanage visit Turkish warship TCG Heybeliada. Photo: Turkish General Consulate in Alexandria

The first indigenous warship of Turkish Navy, the Ada class F-511 TCG Heybeliada will arrive in Tripoli, Libya tomorrow for an official visit.

Turkish Navy did not shared the duration of the port visit but there will be a press conference on board on Monday. In 2010 Turkish Navy organised a task force of four frigates and one support ships and made a two months cruise in the Mediterranean.

The cruise of TCG Heybeliada is a good example how to use the soft power of a navy. 

Further Reading:
TCG Heybeliada Starts Her Mediterranean Tour

TCG Heybeliada Starts Her Mediterranean Tour

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The Commander of Turkish Naval Forces Admiral Murat Bilgel meets with his Egyptian counterpart. Photo: Turkish General Consulate in Alexandria

The Turkish Navy announced on 10 June 2013, that the Ada class corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada will be visiting several North African countries and Albania form 10 June to 12 July 2013.

This Mediterranean tour is important for three reasons:

  • First it will be the first cruise of TCG Heybeliada for such a duration. It will bring valuable lessons about operating this class, as a single unit for extended periods away from the organic support of Turkish Navy.
  • This tour is a very good way of increasing the soft power of Turkey in the region by using a Turkish designed and built warship. It is a text book example of power projection by naval forces in peace time operations.
  • I am sure that this voyage is also a part of the efforts to market the Ada class corvettes to foreign navies.

The visit of TCG Heybeliada to Egypt was highlighted by the visit of Admiral Murat Bilgel, the Commander of Turkish Naval Forces.

The Facebook page of the Turkish General Consulate in Alexandria has wonderful photos from the visit of Admiral Bilgel and this nice video of  TCG Heybeliada arriving in Alexandria.

Regular Shipping Service Between Turkey And Israel Has Started

The Turkish shipping company Sisa Shipping started a regular Ro/Ro service between İskenderun Turkey and -wait for it- Haifa Israel this week.

The first voyage of the Ro/Ro Nissos Rodos started on 20th November. According to the Sisa Shipping the voyage will last only 12 hours. This is the first regular shipping service between to the two countries. I guess it is very much understandable why the company uses a chartered Greek ship for this trip.

The timing of the first voyage -during the hostilities between Israel and  Gaza-  shows that there is a huge gap between the political rhetoric and economical realities.

 

Turkish Warships Visit Novorossiysk During Training Cruise

Two ships of Turkish Navy A-1600 TCG Iskenderun and A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa, have finished their port visit to Novorossiysk, Russia.

The ships are on an open sea training cruises for the freshman of the Naval Petty Officer Training School, to prepare the future mariners for their duties. The cruise will end on 3rd June 2012.

According to Rusnavy.com:

Turkish Navy task unit consisting of training ships Iskenderun and Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa called at Russian port Novorossiysk paying formal visit. About 500 naval cadets are on board the Turkish ships.

Purpose of the visit is strengthening of military cooperation between the two countries and exchange of naval training experience.

The task unit is headed by Capt Serdar Gundoglu. Solemn meeting ceremony took place at Novorossiysk seaport. Ladies dressed in Russian national costumes presented traditional bread and salt to the foreign guests.

Later on, a regular moorage security meeting was held on board Turkish ship Iskenderun. The meeting was attended by representatives of local police, harbor security service, and Novorossiysk Naval Base command.

Today the guests paid courtesy visits to Novorossiysk Mayor Vladimir Sinyagovsky and Novorossiysk Naval Base Commander (senior naval officer) Capt 1 Rank Sergei Pinchuk, and visited museum cruiser Mikhail Kutuzov.

When staying in Novorossiysk, Turkish naval cadets will attend the wreath-laying ceremony at the Square of Heroes and visit navigation training center of Novorossiysk State Maritime Academy. It is also planned to hold sport competitions in soccer, volleyball and basketball between Russian and Turkish mariners.

Turkish And Turkmen Presidents Take A Ride On A Coast Guard Vessel

The President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow made an official visit to Turkey between 28th February and 1st March.

His host, Turkish President Abdullah Gül, took him for a ride on board of the Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-303, after attending the Turkish-Turkmen Business Forum. The forum organized by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) took place in Çırağan Palace at Bosphorus.

Both leaders left the Çırağan Palace, now a hotel, by a Turkish Coast Guard boat and made a short trip along the Bosphorus. The security was high, with two P-1200 class patrol vessels from Turkish Navy and additional coast guard vessels patrolling along the Bosphorus.

Turkmenistan bought two P-1200 class patrol vessels from the Turkish shipyard Dearsan in 2010. According to the contract the Dearsan Shipyard in Istanbul will produce the boats in blocks, and the final assembly and the fitting out will be conducted in Turkmenistan. These boats have a very similar weapon and sensor configuration to Turkish boats. The main difference is the Turkmenistan boats will have a Thales Variant 2D air/surface search radar and a pair of 25mm Aselsan STOP systems. Deliveries are expected in 2012-13.

Click for a news video of this trip: 20120301_185700_15.flv

 

This is not the first time Mr Gul, taking his guest on a ride on board of a Turkish Coast Guard vessel. Last time it was the Syrian President Mr. Assad, he too was taken on board of TCSG-303.

Whether this latest ride, will lead to a sale of similar vessels to Turkmenistan is not clear yet.

 

TCG Gemlik Starts Her Shanghai Visit

TCG Gemlik arriving in Shanghai. Photo: Anadolu Ajansı

The frigate F-492 TCG Gemlik arrived in Shanghai on 1 August 2011, to mark to the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Turkey and China.

Upon her arrival the frigate was welcomed by Senior Colonel Wu Weyhua, Turkey’s consul general Deniz Eke and deputy military attaché at the Turkish Embassy in Beijing,  Lieutenant Colonel Mustafa Ömer Seyran.

The ship will stay four days in China and will be open for public visit before sailing to Japan.

Rear Admiral Sinan Ertuğrul, commander of the Turkish Naval Task Group,  who held a short press conference onboard the frigate said the visit was aimed at commemorating the 40th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.

He stressed the peacetime importance of navies and said this is the first time in Turkey’s history that an officer at the rank of rear admiral is paying a visit to a Chinese port.

Rear Admiral Ertuğrul also said that bilateral relations are important not only for the countries concerned but also for global peace and stability.

The reminder of the Turkish Naval Task Group, F-244 TCG Barbaros, F-493 TCG Gelibolu and A-595 TCG Yarbar Kudret Güngör are back in the Mediterranean after finishing their anti piracy escorts and patrols. This week, the TNTG will take part in the surge operation of NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor before returning to their home port, Aksaz Marmaris on 8 August 21011.

TCG Gemik in Shanghai. Photo: Anadolu Ajansı

>Photos From Navy Day

>I was able to take some photos of the two frigates and one patrol craft which were in Istanbul to celebrate the Navy Day.

F-243 TCG Yıldırım

P-128 TCG AB-28


F-240 TCG Yavuz

Early in the morning as I was taking these photos there was a downpour. Later it turned to be a sunny day but I was not able to take photos then.


Never the less there is always a rainbow after the rain. I was able to identify the following units of Turkish Navy that were open to public on Monday.

Pennant
Name
Class
Port
F-240
TCG Yavuz
Frigate
Istanbul
F-243
TCG Yıldırım
Frigate
Istanbul
P-128
TCG AB-28
Patrol Craft
Istanbul
F-492
TCG Gemlik
Frigate
Bodrum
P-346
TCG Gurbet
Patrol Craft
Bodrum
P-347
TCG Fırtına
Patrol Craft
Bodrum
S-352
TCG Dolunay
Submarine
Bodrum
P-336
TCG Zıpkın
Patrol Craft
Kuşadası

>Turkish Naval Task Force Returns Home

>

On 5th July 2010, the four frigates and one replenishment tanker composing the Turkish Naval Task Force will return to their home port Aksaz.

They have been away since 5th May. This is the first time that Turkish Navy organized a Task Force and made it cruise the Mediterranean.

The task force did more than just sailing up and down the Mediterranean and exercising with other navies. 10 ports have been visited. In some cases the task force was divided to increase the number of the cities visited.

On the photo left the people of Cartagena, Spain are receiving the full swing of Turkish Navy Band.

This cruise increased the awareness of the people around the Mediterranean about Turkish Navy. There are dozens of articles in newspapers about the Task Force and its visits. Man

The purpose of this cruise is very much consistent with the objectives of Turkish Foreign Ministry, to influence the perception of people about Turkish and Turkish Armed Forces, living in the visited countries.

The visited countries and the omitted once are very indicative and consistent. Spain and Italy were visited but the one country in between, whose president won his election on anti Turkish policies was omitted. Algeria, Tunis and Egypt were visited but Libya and Israel were not. (Mind that the cruise and its preparations were started well before the Mavi Marmara incident)

There some of course who might consider such activates of Turkish Navy as a threat. Turkey is becoming a sea faring nation with every passing year and is starting to exercise its naval force for non combat operations. And showing the flag and increasing the awareness of others about us is one of the best missions a navy can do.

In addition to the citizens of Cartagena, Turkish naval band swing at the people of Bar, Durres and Tunis too.

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