TCG Gemlik Departs From Japan

TCG Gemlik in Tokyo. Official Turkish Navy Photo.

F-492 TCG Gemlik is continuing her Far East tour. The frigate left TNTG in mid July and proceeds alone. She made port visits in Medan Indonesia, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Singapore, Shanghai China and Japan.

TCG Gemlik made two visits Japan. The first visit was to the small fishery town of Kushimoto and the southern tip of Honshu island.

This town has a special place in Turkish history. On the stormy night of 18 September 1890 the three masted Turkish frigate Ertuğrul hit the rocks of the coast of Kushimoto and sunk. 553 sailors parished only 63 survived. the frigate was returning to tUrkey after completing a goodwill visit to Japan. This tragedy created a bond between the two nations. There is a Memorial for Ertuğrul in Kushimoto and a Turkish Museum.

Every five year Turkish Navy sends a warship to Japan to commemorate the tragedy. This is why the first port visited by TCG Gemlik was Kushimoto.

After Kushimoto, TCG Gemlik sailed to Tokyo for a port visit between 9th and 12th August.

The frigate has left Japan and has arrived today in Pusan South Korea where she will stay till 18th August.

For more photos from TCG Gemlik’s visit to Tokyo, click here.

Turkish Navy Task Group Returned Home

TCG Barbaros and TCG Gelibolu mooring at Aksaz Naval Base. Official Turkish Navy Photo.

On Monday 8th August 2011, the Turkish Navy Task Group minus the frigate F-492 TCG Gemlik returned to Aksaz Naval Base, Marmaris as planned.

The Task Group spend the last 70 days in Indian Ocean providing naval escort for Turkish and non-Turkish flagged vessels in the Gulf of Aden and conducted anti-piracy escorts in designated segments on the internationally recommended transit corridor (IRTC)

Besides the anti-piracy operations, TMTG will also visited ports in Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Pakistan, India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and conducted passage exercises with these countries and other multinational force in the area.

Click here to read earlier news about the task group.

August 2011 Activation of BlackSeaFor

The August activation of the BlackSeaFor fleet has started on 12th August 2011. On 13th August 2011 the command of the BlackSeafor will pass from Romania to Russia. For this occasion there will be a ceremony in Novoroski harbor where the BlackSeaFor fleet currently is.

 The August 2011 activation of BlackSeaFor will continue till 29 August 2011. During this time the ships will spend 14 days on ports visits on 6 days on cruise. Trabzon, Turkey, Novoroski, Russia and Varna, Bulgaria are the ports of call.

 During this activation period the Blackseafor ships will

  • test newly prepared concepts for  peace support operations, NBC defense, and the rules of engagement
  • conduct sea keeping and ship handling, tactical maneuvering and communications training
  • execute a search and rescue training
  • visit ports of The Black Sea to consolidate friendship between nations and navies.

Following ships are taking part:

F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
63 BGS Priboy Minesweeper Bulgaria
264 ROS E. Sebastian Corvette Romania
158 RFS Tsezar Kunikovl Landing Ship Russia
U-311 UPS Cherkasy Minesweeper Ukraine
Bosphorus Naval News

Admiral Bilgel, The New Commander Of Turkish Navy

Admiral Murat Bilgel is the new commander of Turkish Navy. According to the traditions of Turkish Navy, the Commander of the Fleet is the first in line of succession for the top command post. Thus the promotion of Admiral Bilgel from the Commander of the Fleet to the Commander of Turkish Navy was no surprise.

The former commander Admiral Yiğit was to retire this August due to his age. The timing of the promotion of Admiral Bilgel was also expected.

As the change of the top command post of Turkish Navy happened in accordance with the established rules and traditions why did Admiral Yiğit asked for his early retirement along with the Chief of General Staff and commander of Army and Air force just two days before the meetings of Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ)?

Those retirements / resignations were a gambit as we can now see. The commander of Navy, Army and Air force were to be retired because of age restrictions anyway. Only, General Koşaner had one more year to command.

But by asking for and early retirement in a resignations style the military was able to put some pressure on the politicians and gained an important concession during the meetings of Supreme Military Council.

According to the Personnel Law of the Turkish Armed Forces an active officer who is on a trial, cannot be promoted to a higher rank before the case has ended. It means that all the active duty officers now under arrest will not get any promotions before their cases have ended. If this rule had been applied most of the generals and admirals on Balyoz, Ergenekon and similar cases were to be retired as they cannot get any promotions and their waiting period is over.

The concession the military got from the politicians is a grace period of one year for the officers in prison. If their trials are finished within one year and they are declared not guilty then these officers can continue with their military careers and Turkish Armed Forces would not lose several good educated, professional and intelligent officers.

We have to wait for one year if the gambit of the military was worth it or not. In the meantime story weather is awaiting Admiral Bilgel on his home front.

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

Russia Opposes Deployment of US Warships For Missile Defence In The Black Sea

According to Russian news portal RiaNovosti, Russia is opposed to deploying sea-based missiles and radars of the planned U.S. missile shield in Europe in Turkey’s Black Sea region.

This statement made by Dmitry Rogozin,  Russia’s envoy to NATO. Mr. Rogozin made his statement on 28 July 2011, when he was in Ankara, capital of Turkey during an official visit.

Russia is opposed to deploying sea-based missiles and radars of the planned U.S. missile shield in Europe in Turkey’s Black Sea region, Russia’s envoy to NATO said on Thursday.

Rogozin also said that the Black Sea has always been a sea of friendship and cooperation and it should remain so in the future. As a country that has outlets in the Mediterranean and Black seas, Turkey would have to decide on whether to allow American sea-based missiles to be deployed there or not.

Rogozin is meeting with Turkish diplomats and defense officials, and said he would also brief President Abdullah Gul of the details of Russia-NATO talks on the missile defense system.

The envoys statement contains nothing new. Russia never ever liked any US presence in the Black Sea. It will be interesting to watch if Russia will pressure other NATO members of the Black Sea basin, Romania and Bulgaria not to base any US warships with BMD systems and how.



Turkish Navy And RAN Conducted Exercise Scimitar Exocet

The Australian frigate HMAS Toowoomba conducted Exercise Scimitar Exocet with Turkish warships TCG Barbaros and TCG Yarbay Kudret Gungor before the Turkish ships stopped in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a port visit.

The exercise was conducted in the Bab Al Mandeb Strait when the Turkish ships were returning to the Red Sea after completed their anti piracy patrols.  Exercise Scimitar Exocet was conducted between the 22nd and 23rd of July 2011 in the vicinity of the Gulf of Aden and involved Toowoomba, two Turkish Navy vessels and French Mirage fighter aircraft. Commanding Officer of HMAS Toowoomba, Commander Andrew Quinn, said the exercise proved the Royal Australian Navy’s interoperability with the Turkish Navy against an air-borne attack exercise.

TCG Barbaros and  HMAS Toowoomba are both MEKO 200 design of German shipyard Blohm and Voss. Both ships have a similar armaments.

Photos: Official RAN photos.

TCG Gemlik visits Malaysia, While The Rest Of The Turkish Task Group Hunts For Pirates

TCG Gemik, in Medan. Official Turkish Navy Photo.

F-492 TCG Gemlik has finished her visit to Medan Indonesia and proceeded to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

The frigate was one of the 5 ships that sailed as the Turkish Naval Task Group from Marmaris in June.

After finishing their visit in India the rest of the group returned to piracy fighting operations in Gulf of Aden whereas TCG Gemik started her Far East Tour. The first stop was Medan, Indonesia. The current stop in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. She will leave Kuala Lumpur on 23 July 2011.
The Turkish Navy did not made the route of TCG Gemlik and the schedules of her port visits public. Therefore it is not possible to say whether besides Tokyo and Shanghai, she will visit other ports / nations or not. But I would not be surprised if she would made stops in Singapore and in Korea.

Convoy operations. Official Turkish Navy Photo.

In the meantime the rest of the Task Group returned to Gulf of Aden and escorted merchant convoys inside the IRTC between 15 and 22 July.

A Turkish Navy delegation visitied the commader of NATO’s SNMG-1 /CTF-508 Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi on his flagship D-553 ITS Andrea Doria. Actually SNMG-1 consists solely from ITS Adrea Doria. That makes SNMG-1 officially the smallest NATO fleet ever.

The anti piracy operations of Turkish Naval Task Group will continue till end of this week. On 26 July 2011 F-244 TCG Barbaros will visit Jeddah.

The Turkish Navy Task Group minus TCG Gemlik will return to Turkey on 8 August 2011.

Is The Mysterious Chinese Amphibious Ship A Contender In Turkish LPD Bid?

On 21 July 2011, the Navy Technology website reported that the Chinese Navy has officially launched its largest amphibious dock landing warship, Jinggangshan, in Shanghai.

While the information about the ship is sketchy and the lack of any visual material makes any assessment difficult it was reported that the 210m-long warship had a water displacement capacity of 19,000t and could carry 1,000 soldiers, helicopters, armoured fighting vehicles, boats and landing craft.

But a clone of that ship may end up in Turkish Navy if the Deasan Shipyard wins the bid for Turkish LPD.

In May 2011, three Turkish shipyards, Deasan, RMK Marine and Sedef submitted their bids for RfT to design and build a LPD type ship. RMK Marine submitted their own design, Sedef teamed with Navantia and submitted a redesigned Juan Carlos 1. The most secretive bid was Deasan’s. The shipyard teamed with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation which build the Type 071 amphibious ships for PLA(N).

As is the design of Type 071 does not covers the requirements of Turkish Navy but the new mysterious Type 081 could be a match. If so then competition for the Turkish LPD will be really interesting to watch.

At the moment all this is just a speculation as there is simply not enough information available on Type 081.


Click here to read more on Turkish LPD contest.


The Lamest NATO Fleet Ever?

One of the NATO’s standing naval forces was in Istanbul last week. According to NATO:

The Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 is a multinational, integrated maritime force – made up of vessels from various allied nations, training and operating together as a single team. The Group is permanently available to NATO to perform a wide range of tasks, from participating in exercises to crisis response and real world operational missions. Usually the Force is employed in the Mediterranean area but, as required, will be available anywhere NATO requires it to deploy to.

So I went out to take the photos of the warships. One of he photos is below:

Well do not look for other ships as this photo shows the whole SNMG-2 as is. The Turkish frigate must be here because Turkey has the command of the SNMG-2 and therefore supplies a frigate with flag and command facilities.  The Greeks must be there too. Staying loyal to the old saying “I keep my friends close, my enemies closer”, Greece wants to be in when their archenemy has taken the command of one the major naval groups so that they can prevent Turkey doing something against them.

So these two nations do not have any excuses. I know that many NATO navies are trying hard to save the pennies to survive the year and have commitments elsewhere like off the coast of Somalia or off the coast of Libya. But how about the rest? In the good old days when SNMG-2 or its successor STANAVFORMED was in town there were warships all over the place. US, British, Italian, French sometimes even Canadian or German warships would be here.  Where are they now?

Are the large economies and rooted democracies of NATO are in a so desperate status that they cannot spare a warship for SNMG-2?

Such naval groups or task forces are not only an instrument of war but also an instrument of politics and diplomacy. What is the message (I assume there is one) NATO is trying to give to its members and non-members in this part of the world by making up a naval group consisting of just two warships? This is just sad.


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