10th Anniversary

When I started this blog 10 years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. I had –and still have- things to share and things to say and I knew blogging was –and still is- the right media to address the world.

Blogging in English was a deliberate choice and to be frankly quite a challenge. My grammar and typing mistakes may hurt the eyes of native speakers, but I sincerely hope that the content you got may ease your pain.

It was not a smooth sailing. When a Turkish Court blocked the Blogspot, the original platform I was using, I had no idea whether I should continue or not and if yes how. The migration to WordPress, 8 years ago, was a big leap of faith for me but it worked fine. The Twitter account of this blog has been a good addition and an excellent platform for instant blogging.

Personally, the most satisfying moments were, when I was creating the news instead of relaying press releases or news articles prepared by somebody else.

Through this blog I was able to meet many wonderful people, must online, some in person and share ideas, information and thoughts. I am very grateful for this.

I would like to thank my family. Actually, I can’t thank them enough for every minute I spent on this blog is a minute less spent with them.

And finally, I would like to thank all my readers and followers. Without your continued feedback, interest and engagement this journey would not be this interesting.

A Large Piece Of Grey, Steel Lump

TCG Bayraktar during her acceptance test in 2017. She seems to have become the de facto training ship of Turkish Navy.

On 3rd September the second year cadets of Turkish Naval Academy boarded TCG Bayraktar for a 20 day training cruise in the Black Sea.

318 Turkish students and 7 guest students from South Korea, Albania, Senegal, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan will sail through the Black Sea and visit Varna Bulgaria, Poti Georgia, Trabzon Turkey.

TCG Bayraktar seems to be the favorite training platform of the Turkish Navy replacing the old Rhein class ships TCG Cezayirli Hasan Paşa and TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa. These two ships, initially built as tender for Germany Navy were transferred to Turkish Navy in 1980’ies. In Turkish service, they are mainly used as used for training cruises of Turkish Naval Petty Officer Vocational School and Turkish Naval Academy. Besides training cruises, both ships are used in flagships duties.

But for the last two years, TCG Bayraktar was deployed for the training cruises. While I can understand why TCG Bayraktar is now the chosen platform for the training cruises. She is landing ship with a capacity to carry 350 persons. She has an 1100 square meter closed parking area and a 690 square meter large open deck. So there is enough place for the cadets to live and to train.

TCG Bayraktar has modern command and control facilities, advanced damage control systems and weapons. So she is an effective platform to teach the cadets and show them how to live and fight on ships.

TCG Bayraktar is a convenient platform for training unfortunately not the most representative one nor were the Rhein class ships. Turkish Navy needs a dedicated training ship. And I would like it to be a sailing ship.

Almost one decade ago, in December 2008, the Defence Industry Executive Committee approved the commencement of training ship project. On 29 January 2009, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries issued a request for information (RfI) document about schooner type ships. But nothing since then happened. For some years the project was listed in the official presentations of UDI under the future acquisition projects. Now they even don’t do that. I have no doubt that nobody in Undersecretariat for Defence Industries or in Turkish Navy is talking about this project anymore.

I personally STILL look forward to seeing these schooners in service. I believe that only sailing can teach a young and aspiring sea cadet about the forces that will shape his/her life in the coming twenty-thirty years.

There is no better way than sailing and challenging the elements, in order to develop good ship handling skills and a feeling for the sea. Today’s naval warfighting has become something like an arcade game. All command, control, and communication are done in the bowels of the ship. Yet a commander of any warship must be a sailor first and bring the ship back to the port safely.

I can not think of a person who would not be impressed by seeing a tall ship sailing into their port. TCG Bayraktar is a large piece of grey steel lump, impressive but unimaginative. In terms of naval soft power, these schooners will a force multiplier for the Turkish Navy when and if they enter into the service.

Turkey Helps Pakistan To Recover The Wreck Of The Lost Helicopter

The photo of the search and rescue team before their departure to Pakistan. Photo: Turkish Navy

One Sea King helicopter of Pakistani Navy crashed to the Arabian Sea on 31st August 2018. According to Pakistani Navy, the helicopter was conducting routine training operations when lost. 3 sailors were rescued and one dead were recovered. Pakistan asked Turkey to help to locate the wreck and recover the bodies of the 3 missing aircrews.

A 25 strong search and rescue team from the Turkish Navy was dispatched with an A-400M cargo plane of Turkish Airforce. Among the equipment, send are autonomous underwater vehicles.

NATO Naval Taskforces End Their Deployment To The Black Sea

The flagship of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two FGR Rhein, during her southbound transit through Istyanbul.

Turkish contribution to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two, TCG Anamur making her southbound passage through Istanbul as the taskforce departs from the Black Sea. A new minehunter will replace her for the future deployment of SNMCMG-2.

On early July, flagships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein arrived in Bulgarian port Burgas for the Bulgarian led exercise Breeze 2018. Replenishment ship FS Marne of Marine Nationale and Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos followed them. BREEZE 2018 from 13 to 20 July.

The exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability of the participating units and strengthen cooperation by practicing different warfare techniques in a multi-dimensional scenario. Multinational participating forces and their crews will be tested in a wide range of warfare tactics focusing on regional security.

Bulgaria as host took part with 16 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 2 helicopters and staff of 930 members. Two aircraft of the Bulgarian Air Force and units of the Land Forces were also involved in the exercise with most ships. Turkey was the second largest contributor to the exercise with TCG Fatih for SNMG-2 and minehunter TCG Anamur for SNMCMG-2, submarine TCG Gür, fast attack craft TCG İmbat and one patrol plane.

In total 25 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 1 submarine, 4 aircraft, 5 helicopters and 2,340 service members from the navies of Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the USA, Turkey, France, the Netherlands took part in the exercise, which was held from 13th to 20th July.

Following the conclusion of the exercise Sea Breeze Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos and French replenishment tanker, FS Marne exited the region while the remaining ships of both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

After the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and warships BerdyanskVyshgorod, Kremenchuk, Lubny, and Pochaiv also took part in this PASSEX.

Upon leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

On the first day of August 2018, both HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein departed from the Black Sea ending their deployment in the region.

SNMG-2 Ships Arrived In Samsun

SNMG-2 ships are making a port visit in Samsun. Photo:Erik Weststrate

Earlier this week, both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa, Ukraine between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

Following the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and other Ukrainian warships.

After leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

The flagship of the SNMG-2 HNLMS De Ruyter, TCG Fatih and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand have arrived in Samsun on 28th July 2018. ON 28 July they were open to public. The ships will leave Samsun on 30th July and will sail to Istanbul to exit The Black Sea.

TCG Gediz Takes Part In Dynamic Mongoose 2018

TCG Gediz as part of SNMG-1 takes part in the Dynamic Mongoose ASW exercise. During the exercise, she has crossed the Arctic Circle. Main photo: FRA N WO Christian Valverde, insert Turkish General Staff.

Gabya class frigate TCG Gediz is hunting for submarines at the top of the world. As Turkish contribution to the Standing NATO Maritime Group One TCG Gediz takes part in anti submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2018.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the frigate has crossed the Arctic Circle on 29th June.

Submarines from Norway under operational control of NATO Submarine Command (COMSUBNATO), will join 7 surface ships from Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Turkey under the command of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) Commodore Søren Thinggaard LARSEN. To support the simulated multi-threat environment, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA’s) from Germany, Norway, and the United States will operate from Andoya Air Base under the operational command of NATO Maritime Air Command (COMMARAIR).

In March 2018 Turkish warship TCG Gaziantep took part in the southern ASW exercise Dynamic Manta held in Italy.

Below is the list of the participating units to Dynamic Mongoose 2018:

Number Name Country Type
F-363 HDMS Niels Juel Denmark Frigate
F-828 HNLMS Van Speijk Netherlands Frigate
F-831 HNLMS Van Amstel Netherlands Frigate
273 ORP General Tadeusz Kosciuszko Poland Frigate
Z-1 ORP Baltik Poland Tanker
F-101 ESPS Álvaro de Bazán Spain Frigate
F-495 TCG Gediz Turkey Frigate
Norway Submarine
Norway Submarine
P-3C Orion Norway Patrol plane
P-8A Posedion VP-10 USA Patrol plane
P-3C Orion Germany Patrol plane

Lest We Forget: The King Of The Sea

He was an admiral, naval hero, pirate, warrior and empire builder.

Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa died today in 1546, the year that Turkish annals simply recorded “The King of the Sea is dead”.

Yes, it is his personal pennant that is flying on the mast.

Turkish Navy Has Started To Hunt Mines With Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles


Turkish Navy has entered the age of autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUV). This transition happened without much fanfare or publicity.

The above photo was published on Turkish General Staff website and shows the deck of the Aydın class minehunter TCG Anamur during the ITALIAN MINEX-18 held in Italy between 21 and 29 May.

The orange and yellow gadgets on the back of the deck are practice mines used during the exercise. The large yellow device partially visible on the left is a French-made PAP-104 underwater unmanned vehicle used for exploration, identification and sometimes for the destruction of mines. That system is remotely controlled and is not fully autonomous. This is the standard ROV of all Turkish minehunters.

The yellow torpedo-like object, in the middle, is of much interest. It is a Gavia autonomous underwater vehicle made by Teledyne Gavia.

According to the information provided by the company, GAVIA (AUV) is a self-contained, low logistics, modular survey platform capable of delivering high-quality data while operating from vessels of opportunity or from the shore.

The system is field proven for applications that include MCM, SAR, and ASW training. The field-changeable and easily transportable modules make it well suited for rapid response to emerging requirements.

At least two 1000m rated systems were delivered in 2016. One is named Uluç Bora and the other Barbaros Dora. In one press release, the company states the end user as Turkish Air Force and the AUV’s will provide TAF with highly effective deep water, rapid response capability. I sincerely believe that the there is a mistake. Usually, all underwater operations are the responsibility of Turkish Navy. And currently, these AUV’s are operated by the Turkish Navy Mine Countermeasures (MCM) command in Erdek.

The most striking specialty of this UAV is its modularity. The vehicle can be configured even on the field by adding modules or taking them out according to the mission requirements. The length and the weight of the AUV’s vary according to the modules it has.

Though it is not confirmed I believe each Turkish GAVIA has in addition to the nose, battery and propulsion modules one DVL-aided INS module, one side scan/bathymetry sonar module, one multibeam profiling module.

Among other naval operators of GAVIA AUV are Poland and Russia.

104 Years Between Two Blue

On 24 June 1914, the founding of Naval Aviation School was approved by Navy Ministry. Its location was just alongside to the Aviation School in Yeşilköy. There was an additional hangar for seaplanes at the coast a few kilometers south. Today Yeşiköy Atatürk International Airport occupies the land that used to be the school and its runway and Airforce Academy is built on the grounds that used to house the hangar for the seaplanes.

To commemorate the 104. anniversary of Turkish Naval Aviation, I share photos I took today 4 years ago.

TCB44 kopya

TCB44, an AB-212 ASW helicopter. These old birds are getting retired as they finish the service lives.

TCB52 kopya

TCB52, an S-70B Seahawk helicopter. The workhorse of Turkish Naval Aviation.

TCB602 kopya

TCB-602, Socata training plane. These planes kept navy pilots flying during the period when Turkish Navy did not operate any dedicated maritime patrol/ASW plane

TCB652_1 kopya

TCB-652, a P-235 maritime patrol / ASW plane. It took ages to complete the maritime mission systems and sensor and even longer to integrate them to the existing CN-235 chassis. Now they are working around the clock.

TCB652 kopya

TCB-652

TCB701_1 kopya

TCB-701, P-72 utility airplane for Turkish Navy. In 2008 Turkey ordered 10 ATR 72-500 ASW from Italy. 6 years later the order was amended to 2 ATR-72 600 TMUA and 6 ATR-72 600 TMPA planes. 10 years later we are still waiting patiently for ASW the planes. All we got in the meantime are two unarmed ATR-72-600 planes for utility missions.

TCB52_1 kopya

TCB-52, SH-70 Seahawk.

TCB701 kopya

TCB-701

CDY_7349 kopya

3 AB-212 helicopters in formation flight.

CDY_7345 kopya

3 SH-70 Seahawk helicopters in formation flight.

DSC_2654 kopya

3 TB-20 planes in formation flight.

DSC_2638 kopya

3 P-235 ASW planes in formation flight.

DSC_2619 kopya

A member of Turkish naval special forces about to finish his parachute jump from a helicopter.

DSC_2618 kopya

A member of Turkish naval special forces about to finish his parachute jump from a helicopter.

DSC_2558 kopya

A four-man team of Turkish naval special forces fast-roping from a hovering SH-70 Seahawk.

CDY_7210 kopya

Sonobuoy launchers on a P-235 ASW plane.

CDY_7050 kopya

A Penguin anti-ship missile training round.

CDY_7046 kopya

Hellfire missile training rounds.

CDY_7047 kopya

A Mk-54 torpedo training round.

DSC_1895 kopya

A P-235 ASW plane and her crew.

Turkish Navy Conducts Another SINKEX

Turkish Navy disposed of another decommissioned warship by sending it to the Davy Jones’ Locker with a big bang.

Ay class submarine TCG Yıldıray commissioned in service in 1981, sunk the decommissioned tanker TCG Sadettin Gürcan. She was decommissioned in November 2016, after 46 years of service.

The ship was named after Lieutenant Commander Sadettin Gürcan the commander of the submarine TCG Atılay. This submarine was lost with all hands in July 1942 as she hit submerged an old naval mine from First World War off Dardanelles Strait.

The decommissioned tanker was observed being towed towards to the Black Sea in February 2018. She had markings painted on her bow were consistent with previous targets towed to the Black Sea.

According to unconfirmed reports, the torpedo fires from TCG Yıldıray was an SST-4 Mod 0.

Just 8 months ago, in October 2017 Turkish Navy conducted another SINKEX in the Black Sea. In that exercise, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class hull, ex-USS Duncan was sunk by an Mk-24 Mod. 2 Tigerfish torpedo.

On 11th June 2018, two Ay class submarines were observed sailing towards the Black Sea. One of them is TCG Yıldıray. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to tell you which is which but here are the photos of the two submarines:

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