Mine Scare In The Black Sea

Mine damage on Musca class minesweeper Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu. Photo: Dobrogea TV

On 8 September 2022, a Romanian ship reported a floating mine approximately 25 nautical miles northeast of Constanta harbour. The mine is believed to be one of the mines laid during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Romanian Naval Forces deployed Musca class minesweeper Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu to destroy the mine. However, when the minesweeper arrived at the site the weather and sea conditions worsened. With a wind speed of 10 – 12 m/s and wave height of 1.5 – 2 meters, the minesweeper was not able to deploy the RHIB with the EOD team on board. At night the mine swept through the storm and hit the ship on her astern port side.

According to Romanian Naval Forces, the detonation created a small hole, at the water line. The damage appears to be limited though there had been some ingress through the hole. the 75-strong crew on board has not suffered any injuries.

The minesweeper Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu returned to her homeport Constanta with the help of the navy tugs Grozavul and Viteazu, that provided assistance and research against the mines.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine 30 mines have been found and destroyed in the Black Sea. Here is the list of them

Date Mines Location Country Action
26.03.2022 1 Anchorage area Türkeli north of Bosphorus Turkey Turkish navy EOD teams dragged the mine to their Exercise area near the northern entrance of the Bosphorus and destroyed it.
28.03.2022 1 Off the shore of İğneada town Turkey Turkish navy EOD teams neutralised the mine in location.
28.03.2022 1 39 nautical miles off the Black Sea, across from Capu Midia Romania Romanian navy EOD teams neutralised the mine in location.
6.04.2022 1 Off the shore of Kefken town Turkey Turkish navy EOD teams neutralised the mine in location.
6.04.2022 1 Crimean shore Russia Mine washed ashore on an unspecified Crimean beach.
30.06.2022 1 27 nautical miles east of the mouth of the Kamchia river Bulgaria Bulgarian naval EOD team neutralised the mine in location.
31.07.2022 1 2 nautical miles off Eforie town Romania Romanian navy EOD teams neutralised the mine in location.
8.09.2022 1 25 nautical miles northeast of Constanta harbour Romania Romanian Navy mine sweeper Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu was damaged when the mine could not be neutralised by EOD teams due to bad weather
1.07.2022 22 Ukrainian coast Ukraine 20 mines were destroyed by Ukrainian forces. Locations and dates are unknown.

As always any corrections or additions to the list above are welcomed.

Ships Lost, Damaged Or Seized During The Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Part 3)

It’s been six months since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. I have been trying to keep a list the of damage and losses to the ships, since the start of the invasion.

The list below is the list of the ships that have been damaged, sunk or seized since 24 February 2022.

I welcome any additions, changes or corrections.

Date Ship Type Country Event and Location Losses
24.02.2022 Yasa Jupiter Civilian merchant ship Marshall Island Damage by an airstrike, off the coast of Odessa No losses
25.02.2022 Millennial Spirit Civilian merchant ship Moldovia Damage from artillery fire by Russian warships 12nm off Yuzny port 2 injured
26.02.2022 Namura Queen Civilian merchant ship Panama Damage by an airstrike, location unknown 1 injured
26.02.2022 Sapfir Civilian merchant ship Ukraine Seized by the Russians on Snake Island No losses
1.03.2022 Anonim Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
1.03.2022 Anonim Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
3.03.2022 Banglar Samriddhi Civilian merchant ship Ukraine Airstrike near Yuzny Unknown
3.03.2022 Slovyansk Island Patrol boat Bangladesh Damage by a missile hit near Olvia port 1 dead
4.03.2022 Helt Civilian merchant ship Panama Claimed to have been struck by a mine off the coast of Odessa No losses
4.03.2022 Hetman Sahaydachniy Krivak III class frigate Ukraine Scuttled at the pier by her own crew in Mykolaiv No losses
14.03.2022 Akkerman Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Arabat Zhuk class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-108 Zhuk class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-14 UMS 1000 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-24 UMS 1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-308 Kalkan class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-310 Kalkan class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-311 Kalkan class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Korets Sorum class tug Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Vyshhorod Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
21.03.2022 Raptor bot Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit with an anti-tank missile, in the Sea of Azov, towed back Unknown
24.03.2022 Novocherkassk Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire; sank in Berdiansk port Unknown
24.03.2022 Ruşen Mete Civilian merchant ship Russia Explosion and fire damage in Berdiansk port 8 injured
24.03.2022 Saratov Alligator class LST Russia Explosion and fire damage in Berdiansk port 3 dead, 2 injured
24.03.2022 Tsezar Kunikov Ropucha class LST Sierra Leone Fire damage from the explosion in Berdiansk port Unknown
30.03.2022 Preyaslav Project 1824B intelligence vessel Ukraine Ukrainian intelligence vessel, hit by Russian special forces and artillery, in Dyneper River Unknown
5.04.2022 Azburg Civilian merchant ship Dominican Republic Hit by Russian artillery in Mariupol harbour, sunk. 1 injured
6.04.2022 Donbas Amur class repair ship Ukraine Hit by Russian artillery in Mariupol harbour. Unknown
9.04.2022 Apache Civilian merchant ship Malta Hit by Ukrainian artillery in Mariupol harbour. No losses
10.04.2022 Kremenchuk Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Mariupol No losses
11.04.2022 Smata Civilian merchant ship Liberia Seized by the Russians in the port of Mariupol No losses
13.04.2022 BG-22 UMS 1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
13.04.2022 BG-23 UMS 1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
13.04.2022 Donbas Tarantul class coast guard vessel Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
13.04.2022 Moskva Slava class cruiser Russia Hit by anti-ship missiles, burned and sunk under tow At least 39
15.04.2022 Lubnia Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
15.04.2022 Meotida Damen TSHD 750 Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
18.04.2022 Tzarevna Civilian merchant ship Malta Hit by artillery in Mariupol harbour Unknown
2.05.2022 Raptor bot Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit by MAM-L missile fired from TB-2 near Snake Island Unknown
2.05.2022 Raptor bot Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit by MAM-L missile fired from TB-2 near Snake Island Unknown
4.05.2022 Serna LCM Project 11770 LCM Russia Hit by MAM-L missile fired from TB-2 near Snake Island Unknown
4.05.2022 Raptor bot Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit by MAM-L missile fired from TB-2 near Snake Island Unknown
4.05.2022 Raptor bot Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit by MAM-L missile fired from TB-2 near Snake Island Unknown
1.06.2022 Brentix Civilian merchant ship Tanzania Hit by artillery in Ochakov harbour Unknown
4.06.2022 Vinnytsia Grisha class corvette Ukraine Sunk/scuttled in Ochakov harbour. Not in use since January 2021. Unknown
17.06.2022 Spasatel Vasily Bekh Project 22870 tug Russia Hit by two anti-ship missiles 10 death, 23 injured
29.06.2022 D-106 Project 1176 LCM Russia Hit a mine off the coast of Mariupol and sunk Unknown
6.07.2022 Millennial Spirit Civilian merchant ship Moldovia Hit again by Russian missiles when drifting abandoned No losses

New Sensors For Gabya Class Frigiates

A photo of TCG Gaziantep with the new electro-optic sensor. Photo: Oğuz Eroğuz. Used with permission.

The Turkish Navy started to upgrade the Gabya class frigates with a new electro-optic sensor.

The sensor was first observed on board TCG Gökçeada a couple months ago, the new electro-optic sensor appeared on board TCG Gaziantep this week. The ship was in overhaul. The E/O seems to be installed on a special pedestal on top of the bridge.

While there are no official announcements either from the Turkish Navy or Aselsan the system used on board seems to be the Denizgözü-Ahtapot version.

According to Aselsan Ahtapot is an E/O reconnaissance and surveillance system. The system has high-performance IR, HDTV and Spotter cameras, and an eye-safe laser range finder.

The sensor was specifically designed for naval use on board large ships. The first ship it was installed was on TCG Burgazada.

The lack of a dedicated E/O reconnaissance and surveillance system on board Gabya class frigates was an important shortcoming. With the installation of Ahtapot E/O, this shortcoming will be rectfied.

The Keel Of The Bulgarian Corvette Laid In Varna

A model of the Hrabri. Photo: MTG Dolphin

On 17th June 2022, the keel of the first of two new Multipurpose Modular Patrol Vessels (MMVP) for the Bulgarian Naval Forces was laid with a ceremony. The vessel is named  Hrabri, meaning “Brave” in Bulgarian.

The procurement of modern surface combatants to meet NATO Requirements were in consideration for a long time. These new MMVP’s will replace two Pauk (Project 1241P) and one Tarantul (Project 1241.1M) class corvettes.

While the details of information such as the armament, sensors and specifications have not been made public yet according to NVL, the vessels, which are around 90 meters long, with around 2,300 tons of displacement, are based on the proven OPV 90 design from the NVL portfolio and feature an integrated Combat Management System. The Swedish company SAAB announced in December 2020 that it was going to provide the combat management system for these ships.

The ships are going to be armed with one 76mm main gun furthermore four -probably European-made- anti-ship missiles, eight VL-MICA anti-aircraft missiles in vertical launcher cells, one Rheinmetall Millenium close-in weapon station, and lightweight torpedoes are among the weapons. The MMVP’s are going to be the first ships in Bulgarian Naval forces with a flight deck and a hangar and they will be able to accommodate the AS-565MB Panther naval helicopter in Bulgarian service.

The total volume of the MMPV project is around 420 million euros. Delivery of the first vessel is scheduled for the third quarter of 2025, and the second vessel a year later. The construction of the second ship will begin in early 2023.

It was high time for Bulgaria to invest in its naval forces. These are the first new warship constructions for the Bulgarian Navy for over a century.

Today Ukrainian Armed Forces are using Switchblade loitering ammunition from the USA, CAESAR self-propelled guns from France and NLAW anti-tank missiles from the UK successful again the invading Russian forces. None of these weapons was in the Ukrainian inventory at the start of the war. Ukraine and its Allies were able to deploy these weapons, train their users efficiently and field them against the enemy in a period of mere weeks.

Unfortunately, navies do not have this type of luxury. It takes a few years to build a new warship but takes generations to establish a coherent naval fighting organization. Even if one of the Allies of Ukraine would have donated one or more warships to help bolster Ukrainian naval Forces it would take months to properly train the sailors to efficiently use all the systems on board.

It is time for investment in naval forces. If Ukraine has a more capable naval force with larger ships carrying more sting it could have been easier to arm them with alternative weapon systems to counter the Russian blockage against the Ukrainian ports.

Unlike Ukraine, Bulgaria has the luxury of being a member of NATO. While NATO membership may provide a country with a fair amount of protection and security, it is never a substitute for investing in its own armed forces.

Ships Lost, Damaged Or Seized During The Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Part 2)

I have been trying to keep a list the of damage and losses to the ships, since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,

The list below is the list of the ships that have been damaged, sunk or seized since 24 February 2022.

A photo from the good days of Moskva. This image was taken in January 2016. This was the last time I have seen this ship

Date Ship Type Country Event and Location Losses
24.02.2022 Yasa Jupiter Civilian merchant ship Marshall Island Damage by an airstrike, off the coast of Odessa No losses
25.02.2022 Millennial Spirit Civilian merchant ship Moldovia Damage from artillery fire by Russian warships 12nm off Yuzny port 2 injured
26.02.2022 Namura Queen Civilian merchant ship Panama Damage by an airstrike, location unknown 1 injured
26.02.2022 Sapfir Civilian merchant ship Ukraine Seized by the Russians on Snake Island No losses
1.03.2022 Anonim Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
1.03.2022 Anonim Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
3.03.2022 Banglar Samriddhi Civilian merchant ship Bangladesh Airstrike near Yuzny Unknown
3.03.2022 Slovyansk Island Patrol boat Ukraine Damage by a missile hit near Olvia port 1 dead
4.03.2022 Helt Civilian merchant ship Panama Claimed to have been struck by a mine off the coast of Odessa No losses
4.03.2022 Hetman Sahaydachniy Krivak III class frigate Ukraine Sunk at the pier by her own crew in Mykolaiv No losses
14.03.2022 Akkerman Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Arabat Zhuk class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-108 Zhuk class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-14 UMS 1000 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-24 UMS 1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-308 Kalkan class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-310 Kalkan class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-311 Kalkan class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Korets Sorum class tug Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Vyshhorod Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
21.03.2022 Raptor bot Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit with an anti-tank missile, in the Sea of Azov, towed back Unknown
24.03.2022 Novocherkassk Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire; damage in Berdiansk port Unknown
24.03.2022 Ruşen Mete Civilian merchant ship Sierra Leone Fire damage from the explosion in Berdiansk port 8 injured
24.03.2022 Saratov Alligator class LST Russia Explosion and fire sank in Berdiansk port 3 dead, 2 injured
24.03.2022 Tsezar Kunikov Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire; damage in Berdiansk port Unknown
30.03.2022 Preyaslav Project 1824B intelligence vessel Ukraine Ukrainian intelligence vessel, hit by Russian special forces and artillery, in Dyneper River Unknown
5.04.2022 Azburg Civilian merchant ship Dominica Hit by Russian artillery in Mariupol harbour. 1 injured
6.04.2022 Donbas Amur class repair ship Ukraine Hit by Russian artillery in Mariupol harbour, sunk Unknown
9.04.2022 Apache Civilian merchant ship Malta Hit by Ukrainian artillery in Mariupol harbour. No losses
10.04.2022 Kremenchuk Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Mariupol No losses
13.04.2022 BG-22 UMS 1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
13.04.2022 BG-23 UMS 1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
13.04.2022 Donbas Tarantul class coast guard vessel Ukraine Sunk in Mariupol harbour Unknown
13.04.2022 Moskva Slava class cruiser Russia Hit by anti-ship missiles, burned and sunk under tow At least 39

I welcome any additions, changes or corrections.

First Steel Cut For The New OPV


The first steel is cut for the Turkish Navy offshore patrol vessel Akhisar on 9 April 2022.

The OPV is being developed by Asfat and is based on the Milgem class corvettes. By using the hull of the Milgem class ships the OPV will be built in a shorter time and at a lower cost.

The OPV will have a very different main propulsion system from the Ada class corvettes. These ships will have a combined diesel-electric or diesel engine combination (CODELOD). This combination will give the ships a cruising range of 4500 miles and an economical speed of around 15 knots with very low fuel consumption. The crew will be 104.

According to Asfat these OPVs will be built with the fitted for but not with design philosophy, which will allow the integration of newly developed national weapon and sensor systems.

Ships Lost, Damaged Or Seized During The Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Part 1)

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have been trying to keep a list the of damage and losses to the ships.

The list below is the list of the ships that have been damaged, sunk or seized during the first month of the war.

Date Ship Type Country Event and Location Losses
24.02.2022 Yasa Jupiter Civilian merchant ship Marshall Island Damage by an airstrike, off the coast of Odessa No losses
25.02.2022 Millennial Spirit Civilian merchant ship Moldovia Damage from gun fire by Russian warships 12nm off Yuzny port 2 injured
26.02.2022 Namura Queen Civilian merchant ship Panama Damage by an airstrike, location unknown 1 injured
26.02.2022 Sapfir Civilian search and rescue ship Ukraine Seized by the Russians on Snake Island No losses
1.03.2022 Raptor boat Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
1.03.2022 Raptor boat Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
3.03.2022 Slovyansk Island Patrol boat Ukraine Airstrike near Yuzny Unknown
3.03.2022 Banglar Samriddhi Civilian merchant ship Bangladesh Damage by a missile hit near Olvia port 1 dead
4.03.2022 Hetman Sahaydachniy Krivak III class frigate Ukraine Sunk at the pier by her own crew in Mykolaiv No losses
4.03.2022 Helt Merchant ship Panama Claimed to have been struck by a mine off the coast of Odessa No losses
14.03.2022 BG-14 UMS1000 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-24 UMS-1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-311 Aist class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-310 Aist class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-118 Zhuk class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Akkerman Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Vyshhorod Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Korets Sorum class tug Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
21.03.2022 Raptor boat Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit with an anti-tank missile, in the Sea of Azov, towed back Unknown
24.03.2022 Saratov Alligator class LST Russia Explosion and fire; sank in Berdiansk port Unknown
24.03.2022 Tsezar Kunikov Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire damage in Berdiansk port 8 injured
24.03.2022 Novocherkassk Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire damage in Berdiansk port 3 dead, 2 injured

I welcome any additions, changes or corrections.

 

The Montreux Convention Regarding The Regime Of The Straits: A Turkish Perspective

The Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the Turkish Straits was signed on 20 July 1936 in Montreux. With this convention, the Republic of Turkey managed to end the issue of Straits, which was resolved temporarily with the Treaty of Lausanne, so as to protect its own safety and interests.

Considering the historical developments, Turkey had to allow the Straits as a gun-free zone to be administered by the Straits Commission under the Treaty of Lausanne. This situation which threatened Turkey’s absolute sovereignty and security over its territory had to be corrected due to the increasing political tensions in Europe in the late 1930s. The Montreux Convention was the result of the political and diplomatic efforts that were made in this direction.

Through this convention that was signed by Australia, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Japan, France, Romania, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, Turkey’s limited rights were given back. Turkey gained sovereignty over the Straits Zone. The USA was also invited to the conference that was held before the convention. However, the Washington Government preferred not to participate and thus couldn’t become a signatory.

500px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svg

Northwestern Turkey is divided by a complex waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. The channel passing between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara is named the İstanbul Boğazı, more commonly called the Bosporus. Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey is positioned at the south end of the Bosporus. The Sea of Marmara is connected to the Aegean Sea by a channel called the Çanakkale Boğazı, also known as the Dardanelles. The Turkish Straits, comprising the Strait of Canakkale, the Strait of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara, are unique in many respects. The very narrow and winding shape of the strait is more akin to that of the river. It is an established fact that the Turkish Straits are one of the most hazardous, crowded, difficult and potentially dangerous waterways in the world for marines. All the dangers and obstacles characteristic of narrow waterways are present and acute in this critical sea lane.

The Montreux Convention guarantees free passage of civilian merchant ships without any restriction through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus in peacetime. Therefore, the adoption of the Turkish Straits Vessel Traffic Services System, which was put into practice by Turkey when the number and tonnages of vessels passing through the straits increased dramatically, became possible after serious diplomatic negotiations between the signatories of the Montreux Convention.

Six out of 29 articles of the Montreux Convention were related to the civilian merchant ships while 16 of them were related to warships and aircraft. Provisions regarding the passing of warships through the Straits vary depending on whether these ships belong to a country with or without a shore on the Black Sea. Also, these provisions vary depending on whether Turkey is belligerent or sees itself under a close war threat.

The definition of “ton” in the Montreux Convention, unless otherwise specified, refers to the long ton, which is equal to 1016 kg (2240 pounds) instead of the metric ton that is equal to 1000 kg.

Passage of warships
The Black Sea riparian countries have the right to transit their warships and submarines through the Straits without any tonnage restriction provided that Turkey is notified eight days prior to the transit passage through diplomatic channels

Ships that have a greater tonnage than 15.000 tons may pass through the Straits one by one and be escorted by not more than two destroyers.

Only submarines belonging to riparian states can pass on the surface and singly through the Turkish Straits, for the purpose of rejoining their base in the Black Sea for the first time after their construction or purchase, or for the purpose of repair in dockyards outside the Black Sea.

There are severe restrictions in terms of type, number and tonnage for the transit through the Straits of warships that belong to the non-Black Sea countries. These non-riparian countries are required to notify Turkey 15 days, prior to the transit through diplomatic channels.

The total number and the maximum aggregate tonnage of all foreign naval forces which may be in course of passage through the Turkish Straits are limited to 9 and 15.000 tons respectively. The maximum aggregate tonnage that non-riparian States may have in the Black Sea is 45.000 tons. In this regard, the maximum aggregate tonnage of the vessels of war that one non-riparian State may have in the Black Sea is 30.000 tons. The non-riparian states cannot keep their warships for more than 21 days in the Black Sea.

Due to its date of signing, the Montreux Convention does not have a clear statement with regard to nuclear-powered vessels. In fact, in the convention, there is not a statement with regard to the engine types of the ships that will pass through the Straits. In theory, the transit of a nuclear-powered ship through the Straits is not restricted. However, today nuclear-powered warships are either submarines or aircraft carriers with huge tonnage.

The transit of a submarine or an aircraft carrier belonging to a country without a shore on the Black Sea is not possible. Therefore, a nuclear-powered warship has not passed through the Straits officially so far.

The only type of warship that is exclusively banned from passage through the Turkish Straits is the aircraft carrier.

Turkish Straits during a War or Crisis
In the time of war Turkey not being belligerent, the peacetime rules apply for the warships belonging to non-belligerent parties. Warships belonging to the waring states cannot pass through the Turkish Straits, The only exception of this is that if the warships belonging to belligerent countries with or without a shore on the Black Sea have already left the ports that they are affiliated to before the war, they have the right to transit in order to return to their ports.

In time of war, Turkey being belligerent, the passage of warships is entirely left to the discretion of the Turkish Government.

The Southern enterance of the Bosphorus. The old city, The Golden Horn are visible at the bottom. At far left the first Bosphorus Bridge can be seen.

Similarly, if Turkey considers itself to be threatened with imminent danger of war, the transit of warships belonging to foreign countries through the Straits is left to the discretion of the Turkish Government.

By means of this authority, Turkey can prohibit the transit of warships belonging to the countries that cause Turkey to consider itself to be threatened with the danger of war while it can allow the transit of warships belonging to countries that do not cause that such situation.

With the Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the straits, which we have tried to summarize above, the number, type and size of the warships that can reach the Black Sea have been restricted. These restrictions increased the security of the riparian states. However, the same restrictions prevent the desire of countries with powerful naval forces to be present and cruise in all seas all around the world.

Turkey has been trying to implement the Montreux Convention with great precision since 1936. Therefore, occasionally Turkey is exposed to criticism from countries both with and without a shore on the Black Sea. The first big test of the Montreux Convention was, no doubt, the Second World War. Turkey closed the Straits to the warships of the belligerent countries during this war in which Turkey remained neutral. This situation served the purpose of the Soviet Union since the transit of German submarines and warships through the Straits was prevented. Axis countries couldn’t bring new warships to the Black Sea except for those that were already in the Black Sea before the war. Submarines were transferred in pieces by land or through the Danube River so that they could be assembled in Romania.

This however also prevented the military aid convoys coming from its allies, the UK and the USA, to pass through the Straits. Therefore, much of the military aid from the USA and UK had to be carried to Russia either over Iran or over the North Pole route.

Montreux During The Cold War
During the Cold War, Turkey was exposed to criticism both from the Soviet Union and the NATO allies from time to time due to its way of implementation of the Montreux Convention.

In 1976 when Turkey allowed the warship Kiev to pass through the Turkish Straits, many NATO allies including the USA protested Turkey. The Kiev, constructed in the Nikolayev Shipyard in the Black Sea in 1972 was considered as the first aircraft carrier constructed in the Soviet Union. However, having been quite aware of the fact that violating the Montreux Convention would not be good for its own benefit, the USSR classified Kiev as a heavy anti-submarine cruiser.

The Montreux Convention, defines aircraft carriers as surface warships, regardless of their tonnage, designed and constructed mainly to carry aircraft and enable their operation of them. If a warship was not designed or constructed with the sole purpose of carrying and operating aircraft, is not considered as an aircraft carrier even if the ship has a suitable deck for the aircraft’s take-off and landing.

Kiev and her sister ships had long-range anti-ship and air defence missiles as well as anti-submarine warfare rockets. Thus, the Soviet Union was able to classify these ships as heavy anti-submarine cruisers. All the ships of this class, Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk and Baku passed frequently both northbound and southbound through the Turkish Straits while they were commissioned.

This is not a carrier. Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov passing through Bosphorus

A similar crisis happened in 1991 when Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, still commissioned in the Russian Naval Forces, passed through the Turkish Straits. Although this ship looked like a classical aircraft carrier in terms of its structure, the Soviet Union classified it as a heavy cruiser due to weapon systems deployed onboard. Again some NATO members put serious pressure on Turkey not to allow this ship to pass through the Straits, but they didn’t succeed in this effort.

Unlike Kiev class ships, the Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov didn’t pass through the Straits ever, after leaving the Black Sea in December 1991.

Montreux in the New World
After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the U.S. Government requested help from the NATO countries within the scope of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. According to this article, an armed attack against a NATO country is considered an attack against all of the NATO countries.

In this context, on 26 October 2001 Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) the first anti-terror operation of NATO was launched. The operation began with the patrols of the warships belonging to NATO countries in the Eastern Mediterranean was later on expanded so as to search the suspicious ships and their loads.

Upon the success of the OAE in the Eastern Mediterranean, the operation was expanded to the whole Mediterranean in March 2004. At the same time, the Turkish Naval Forces launched Operation Black Sea Harmony (OBSH). The purpose of OBSH was to ensure security in the Black Sea, create situational awareness and control suspicious merchant ships. The recognized maritime picture obtained within the scope of the operation, which is still ongoing, is shared with the NATO authorities and headquarters.

Initially, only units of the Turkish Naval Forces participated in OBSH. Later Turkey invited all littoral countries in the Black Sea to participate in the operation that was launched with its own initiative, and Romania, Russia and Ukraine responded positively to this invitation. The most important effect of the OBSH was that all the pressure exerted to modify the Montreux Convention and expand the OAE into the Black Sea was neutralised. Otherwise, if OAE was extended into the Black Sea, warships belonging to non-riparian NATO countries would be regularly present in the Black Sea and successful implementation of the Montreux Convention would be jeopardised.

After the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, the Montreux Convention was widely discussed again. Turkey received a lot of flak for refusing the transit of the hospital ship USNS Comfort. The USA wanted to dispatch the ship with a 69.552 displacement to Georgia to show solidarity and provide aid. However the article of the Montreux Convention is very clear about the sizes of the ships to be sent for humanitarian reasons: “In the event that one or more countries without a shore on the Black Sea desire to send naval forces into the Black Sea, for a humanitarian purpose, the said forces cannot exceed 8.000 tons.” The neo-conservative U.S. government was not happy with this decision.

The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, and NATO’s anti-ballistic missile defence system were the most recent times when Ankara faced pressure on how it implemented the Montreux Convention in dealing with foreign navies’ requests for transit to and from the BlackSea.

What Now?
Turkey will face challenges regarding the implementation of the Montreux Convention, especially after Ukraine calls on Turkey to close its airspace and the Black Sea access to Russian vessels on 24 February 2022. The Russian invasion of Ukraine showed that Russia indeed is the major challenge in terms of the security and stability of Europe in general and the Black Sea region specifically.

Turkey created a security architecture in the Black Sea with the riparian states. This apparatus keep the security in the region and keep the warships of the non-riparian states out. This architecture worked when the Russian Black Sea Fleet was weak and the NATO’s enlargement toward the east was slow. It even survived the Russian attack on Georgia in 2008. However, in 2014, Russia’s annexation of Crimea meant the collapse of the regional security architecture.

In recent years, Russia displayed its discontent towards the existence of foreign warships in the Black Sea by shadowing them constantly and flying military planes aggressively low and close to these vessels of war. On the other hand, NATO is trying to find ways to keep more warships of non-riparian States in the Black Sea and keep them longer.

When determining ways to bring stability to the Black Sea region and to answer the security challenges caused by Russian aggression it is important to remember that the Montreux Convention is simply far more than just a treaty that regulates the passage of commercial and naval ships through the Turkish Straits.

The Montreux Convention completes the Treaty of Lausanne, allowing Turkey to have full and absolute sovereignty and security over its territory. Therefore it is vital for Turkey to keep the convention alive and relevant.

Note: I have first written this text in 2014 for the Turkish online defence magazine C4 Defence in Turkish. It was published in the March 2014 Issue. Since then it was also published on web site Second Line of Defense. I have changed the original text in light of the recent Russian attack on Ukraine.

A Primer On The Montreux Convention

500px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svgThis is just a short primer on the Montreux Convention that regulates the passage of Merchant and warship through the 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, the 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 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.

Dynamic Manta 2022 Has Started

The participating warships and submarines in one photo. Original photo by NATO Marcom, improvements by me.

NATO’s Submarine Warfare Exercise Dynamic Manta 2022 kicked on 21 February 2022, off the Sicilian coast, with ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from 9 Allied nations.

According to the NATO press release, submarines from France, Greece, and Italy joined surface ships from Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. for the exercise. Maritime patrol aircraft from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. support the simulated, multi-threat environment during the exercise.

The aim of this exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard for safety.

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