First Logistic Support Ship On Builders Trials

First, of the two logistic support ships, A-574 TCG Yüzbaşı Güngör Durmuş has started her shipyard trials. These two ships will be a welcomed addition to the existing fleet of tankers and replenishment ships of the Turkish Navy.

These ships do not have a rig for underway replenishment alongside but will be able to stream a fuel hose astern for a more old fashioned way.

TCG Yüzbaşı Güngör Durmuş is constructed by Selah Shipyard and should have been handed over to the Navy 18 months ago.

Where An Epoch Lies

Nusret

“Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground, You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies.”

18 March 1915 must have been an unforgettable day for a ship spotter.

A mighty Allied fleet consisting of HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Agamemnon, HMS Lord Nelson, HMS Inflexible, HMS Prince George, HMS Triump, HMS Ocean, HMS Majestic, HMS Swiftsure, HMS Vengeance, HMS Irresistible, HMS Albion from Royal Navy, Gaulois, Charlemagne, Bouvet, Suffren from French Navy were ready to fight the forts protecting Dardanelles.

The Royal Navy and French warships tried to force their way through the Dardanelles to affect the capture of Istanbul then capital of the Ottoman Empire. This, it was hoped, would take Turkey out of the war and enable the Allies to shore up the Russian war effort on the Eastern Front, so relieving pressure on the Western Front.

Most of the ships of the Allied Fleet were old or made nearly obsolete with the fast advance of the new ships of the Dreadnought area. The first class capital ships were kept at home to protect it.

Nevertheless, it was a fine and powerful Fleet and an epoch-changing fight.

Everything seemed to be on the side of the Allied naval forces until at around 14.00 on March 18, when a small cloud of yellowish smoke, which turned black afterward, came out of the starboard quarter of the French warship Bouvet. The old battleship had struck one of the mines laid ten days earlier by small Ottoman minelayer Nusret. Bouvet sank in a matter of minutes. After a very short time, HMS Inflexible and shortly later HMS Irresistible also struck mines planted by Nusret.

Of the 18 capital ships that sailed in the Dardanelles that morning HMS Ocean, HMS Irresistible and Bouvet never returned. HMS Inflexible and Gaulois had to be beached at the nearby island of Tenedos, in order for their men to be rescued. Suffren was heavily damaged by Turkish guns and later had to be docked at Malta for intensive repairs.

The failure of the naval forces forced the Allies to land troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula to capture it and so remove the lethal gun barriers. It led to bloody trench warfare and many thousands of dead on both sides.

As it dissipated over the waters the words of a famous Turkish poem that honors the sacrifice of the Gallipoli Campaign and its role in establishing nationhood rang through the minds of many who were there. One verse, in particular, seems to perfectly express Remembrance and the epic nature of the events experienced by all nations who fought at Gallipoli, but especially the Turkish people:

‘Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground
You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies;
Bend down and lend your ear, for this silent mound
Is the place where the heart of a nation sighs.’

Russian Submarine Krasnodar Transited Southbound Trough Istanbul

Today improved Kilo class (Proj. 636.3) submarine of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Krasnodar made an unexpected southbound passage through Bosphorus.

The submarine one of the six units built specially for the Black Sea Fleet has been deployed in the region since 7.8.2017. She has 6 533mm torpedo tubes and carries a combination of up to 18 torpedoes, SS-N-27 anti-ship, and Kalibr land attack missiles.

While a southbound passage of a Russian submarine is very rare, it is has happened before. Russian Kilo class (Proj. 877) submarine Alrosa suffered an engine fire in 2009 and had to go to the Baltic for extensive repairs. She did even take part in the NATO exercise Bold Monarch 2011. Yes, it was different times then.

The Montreux Convention regulates the passage of submarines. While the submarines of non-Black Sea nations are forbidden to pass through the Straits, the submarines of the Black Sea riparian States may pass under certain conditions

Article 12.

Black Sea Powers shall have the right to send through the Straits, for the purpose of rejoining their base, submarines constructed or purchased outside the Black Sea, provided that adequate notice of the laying down or purchase of such submarines shall have been given to Turkey. Submarines belonging to the said Powers shall also be entitled to pass through the Straits to be repaired in dockyards outside the Black Sea on condition that detailed information on the matter is given to Turkey. In either case, the said submarines must travel by day and on the surface and must pass through the Straits singly.

The provision in the convention is very clear. If Krasnodar exited the Black Sea for repairs then this passage does not break the rules of the convention. If the submarine, however, joins her 2 sisters all ready stationed in the Med since 2017 and conducts military operations, then this will be a clear breach of the Montreux Convention. We will know better in a few days.

The Participants In Mavi Vatan Exercise (Part 2)

An update to the major units taking part in the exercise Mavi Vatan:

Legend: Green means confirmed participant. Red means confirmed nonparticipant.

Small landing craft and auxiliaries taking part in the exercise are not included in the list. For further information regarding the exercise click here.

Additional information:

Frigates: TCG Gökçeada is deployed with the SNMG-2 and TCG Geliblou is in Gulf Of Aden with CTF-151. One frigate is escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean. This means all frigates of the Turkish Navy are deployed.

Corvettes: Two corvettes are also escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean.  This leaves 8 corvettes available for this exercise. Only one will miss it out.

Minehunters: TCG Akçakoca is deployed with SNMCMG-2. From the available ten strong force, 7 will take part.

Submarines: As their nature, they are the most difficult units to identify. TCG Gür is in Italy to join the NATO exercise Dynamic Manta. Two more are deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean according to Turkish General Staff. 7 out of 9 available submarines are taking part.

Amphibious ships: According to pre-exercise briefing 22 amphibious ships are participating in this exercise. Most of them are smaller LCT and LCM sized landing craft.

Fast attack craft: Turkish Navy has 19 missile-armed fast attack craft. 16 of them are taking part in this exercise.

The Participants In Mavi Vatan Exercise

Regular readers of this blog will know, that I like to name the units that are taking part in an exercise. It is not easy to identify the participating units to the Mavi Vatan naval exercise. First, there are 103 units taking part in this drill. I would be able to get to name them all. Second, most of the attention of the media is focused on larger units like frigates and corvettes. The smaller landing craft and the auxiliaries taking part will not be covered.

Never the less I am trying to find the larger units participating in this exercise. Here is the list:

Legend: Green means confirmed participant. Red means confirmed nonparticipant.

Frigates: TCG Gökçeada is deployed with the SNMG-2 and TCG Geliblou is in Gulf Of Aden with CTF-151. One frigate is escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean. This means all frigates of the Turkish Navy are deployed.

Corvettes: Two corvettes are also escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean.  This leaves 8 corvettes available for this exercise. Only one will miss it out.

Minehunters: TCG Akçakoca is deployed with SNMCMG-2. From the available ten strong force, 7 will take part.

Submarines: As their nature, they are the most difficult units to identify. TCG Gür is in Italy to join the NATO exercise Dynamic Manta. Two more are deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean according to Turkish General Staff. 7 out of 9 available submarines are taking part.

Amphibious ships: According to pre-exercise briefing 22 amphibious ships are participating in this exercise. Most of them are smaller LCT and LCM sized landing craft.

Fast attack craft: Turkish Navy has 19 missile-armed fast attack craft. 16 of them are taking part in this exercise.

What Does The Exercise Mavi Vatan Mean?

Today, 96 ships of various types and 7 submarines sailed away from their ports this morning as the naval exercise Mavi Vatan started. Mavi Vatan means Blue Motherland (or Fatherland or Homeland depending your own orientation) and refers to the seas around Turkey.

The break down of the participants in number and percentage.

The exercise is held in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and in the Black Sea simultaneously and is the largest naval exercise ever held in Turkey. The exercise will continue till 8th March 2019.

In addition to the above-mentioned assets, helicopters, planes and special forces teams of Turkish Navy, attack and transport helicopters from Turkish Land Forces, fighter and early warning planes from Turkish Air Force, and boats and helicopters from Turkish Coast Guard are also participating in this exercise.

Turkish Navy usually conducts its spring exercise a few weeks later, usually in late March, early April or in May when the seas are less demanding and the winds are fairer. These wargames are more compact in size and in their scopes.

In many aspects, this is not a standard annual wargame played by the Turkish Naval Forces. And when nations stage grandiose military games it is usually a kind of a signal.

There was one such major exercise the Turkish Navy had held in June 1998, Turkish naval elements spread over the Mediterranean. One group was deployed east of Malta and the other west of Crete before launching a virtual battle with the participation of the Turkish air force. That was the largest exercise ever held by the Turkish navy in the Mediterranean and was meant as a response to the tension with Greece at that time.

The Turkish media say the exercise is actually a message to the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), a coalition formed recently by Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. The alliance plans to explore energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, including disputed areas. This show of force on the maritime domain will surely be closely watched by these nations.

So what makes this exercise novel if we would skip the most obvious part:

  • Unmanned aircraft and autonomous unmanned vehicles will be used together with the manned systems. The short ranged Bayraktar and the longer range ANKA UAV’s are in service with the Turkish Navy. Bayraktar can carry smart micro munition. ANKA can be controlled via satellite thus enabling it to fly long-range missions. The Gavia autonomous unmanned vehicles can detect mines down to 1000m depth. Previous systems on board of the mine hunters were limited down to 270m. The integration of these modern systems into existing capabilities must be tested.
  • The usage of command, control, communication, and intelligence systems. Turkish Navy has been trying to increase its awareness over the maritime domain. A lot has been invested in land-based long-range radar systems, airborne early warning aircraft and in data linking ability. These have to be tried and assessed.
  • In the pre-exercise briefing, it has been announced that a locally developed computer-based naval warfare simulator (game) will be used during this exercise. With the help of this system, the commanders will be able to make decisions based on the played scenarios rendered from real-life situations.
  • The validation of the effectiveness of the Naval Warfare Center established last year. 165 strong staff will be running this large exercise.

Not much left sitting in the port.

It has been announced that live firings will be conducted during the Mavi Vatan 2019 exercise. Though at this stage it is not clear what type of ammunition will be tested against what kind of target(s). Only UMTAS, long-range anti-tank missile, and CİRİT, 2.75” laser-guided missile has been specially mentioned. Both munitions are specially made to be used from attack helicopters. We will have to wait to learn why these two missiles are mentioned. Are they integrated into a naval platform or will they be fired from army attack helicopters?

More than %80 of all corvettes, fast attack craft, and patrol boats, currently not deployed to a mission are taking part in this exercise. An impressive %93 of all frigates have sailed away.  To keep so many ships for 10 days at sea requires also a good and strong logistical support. The test the logistical support Turkey can provide to its deployed forces is one of the important issues of this exercise.

For me, the most important part of the exercise will be the port visits made by the Turkish warships. Between 6th and 8th March, 40 ports will be visited by 67 participating naval units, 7 of which are foreign ports.

Turkish warships will visit, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russian Federation, Georgia and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The simultaneous visits to the Black Sea riparian states have a high symbolic value. Turkey is the only nation that can perform such a diplomatic show of force. It is not a small event to do port visits in 5 different nations at the same time.

In conclusion, this exercise is a military drill to turn the concepts of Turkish Armed Forces into doctrines as indicated by Mr. Metin Gürcan, an independent security analyst. This exercise is a political act to show that Turkey will protect its interests on the high seas.

Korkut-D Air Defence System Remodeled

Left, a screen capture of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa as she is transiting through Istanbul. Note there is no 100mm gun or the Korkut-D CIWS at the aft of the ship. Right, an archive photo of the Korkmaz on board of the ship from 2018.

Today TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa made a northbound passage through Istanbul. This ship was built for Germany Navy as FGS Donau, by Schlichting-Werft in Travemünde as a tender for fast attack boats. She was transferred to the Turkish Navy in 1995 to replace the old ship of the same name.

TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa was selected as a test platform for the Korkut-D close-in weapon system. In 2018 the 100mm gun turret at the aft of the ship on X position was replaced with a Korkut-D mount and a 3D radar mast. As the ship passed today the Korkut-D system was no longer on board meaning the test are officially over. It was interesting to note that the original gun mount was not replaced.

Left, the Korkut-D mount during the test on board of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa. The fire control radar is on the mount while the 3D search radar is on a separate mast. Right, rendering of the remodeled Korkut-D mounts with and without the 3D radar.

It is quite easy to fit a weapon system to the ships which are on the design table. We will see Korkut-D on the future Turkish warships if the Turkish Navy is satisfied with the end product. But it is much more difficult to retrofit a new weapon system such as Korkut-D to existing ships. It should not penetrate decks, not worsen the stability of the ship and not add too much weight.

Aselsan, the manufacturer of the Korkut-D CIWS system seems to have remodeled the mount. During the tests, the original Korkut-D mount has only the fire control system mounted on the turret while the 3D search radar was on a separate mast. It was at the end of the turret and on the center as the guns were quite forward. On the remodeled turret, the fire control system is located to the left side of the turret and the guns seem to be moved a little to the back more towards the center of the turret. The new configuration will no doubt have shortened the overall length of the system making it easier to fit into smaller spaces and increased the possibility of changing the legacy close-in weapon system on older warships with Korkut-D.

Dynamic Manta 2019 Has Started

The participating warships and submarine in one photo. Original photo: Turkish Ministry of Defence, improvements by me.

NATO’s Submarine Warfare Exercise Dynamic Manta 2019 kicked off yesterday, off the Sicilian coast, with ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from 10 Allied nations.

According to NATO press release submarines surface units and ASW planes and helicopters from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and USA, under the control of Commander, Submarines NATO (COMSUBNATO) taking part in the annual exercise.

Altogether 4 submarines, 9 ships, and ASW planes and helicopters will try to hone their skill in anti-submarine warfare.

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.

Below is the complete list of the participants:

Number Name Type Country
333 Toronto Frigate Canada
D-654 Auvergne Frigate France
A-608 Var Tanker France
F-450 Elli Frigate Greece
S-120 Papanikolis Submarine Greece
F-594 Alpino Frigate Italy
S-527 Scire Submarine Italy
F-805 Evertsen Frigate Netherlands
F-103 Blas de Laze Frigate Spain
F-81 Santa Marina Frigate Spain
S-74 Tramontana Submarine Spain
S-357 Gür Submarine Turkey
F-493 Gelibolu Frigate Turkey

TCG Ufuk Launched

The previously unnamed test and evaluation ship has now a name and a pennant number: A-591 TCG Ufuk.

The ship, the first one in Turkish Navy to bear that name, was launched on 9th February 2019.

TCG Ufuk shows a striking resemblance to Ada class corvettes. Even some main physical attributes like the length, width, drought of the ships are the same. Here is a comparison chart:

TCG Ufuk Ada Class
Length (meters) 99,5 99,5
Width (meters) 14,4 14,4
Draft (meters) 3,6 3,9
Displacement (tons) 2400 2300
Speed (knots) 18+ 29

Two most obvious differences between this ship and the Ada class corvettes are that that TCG Ufuk doesn’t have any weapons.  The test and evaluation ship does have a flight deck to support 10-tonne class helicopters but does not have a hangar.

According to news reports, TCG Ufuk will have an all diesel main propulsion whereas the Ada class ships have a combined gas turbine and diesel engines as main propulsion. The top speed is given as 18+ knots, which is considerably slower than 29 knots top speed of Ada class corvettes.

During the launching ceremony, the President of Turkey Mr. Erdoğan told that this ship was the first intelligence gathering ship built by national means and mentioned the importance of signal intelligence.

The intelligence gathering mission of this ship may explain why the ship will have a 100 tons more displacement compared to Ada class corvettes despite having no weapons and the sensors associated with fire control and why its construction was not published much compared to other defense industry projects.

The commissioning of TCG Ufuk is scheduled for July 2020.

Test And Evaluation Ship Takes Shape

A CGI image of the Test and Evaluation Ship showing her general configuration. The lack of weapons, the enclosure of the section between the funnel and the mast are particularly striking features.

 

The project was first made public in a presentation made by Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, (SSM) during the 7th Naval Systems Seminar in 2017. SSM simply told that they have signed a contract for a Test and Evaluation Ship.

More information was released in a presentation made by the engineering company STM during the same event. According to STM, they are the main contractor of a project, where one Test and Evaluation Ship (TaES) will be constructed by Istanbul Denizcilik Shipyard. The ship will have hull form of Ada class corvettes. Aselsan, as a subcontractor is responsible for the manufacturing of the mission systems to be used on board.

STM also shared the above photo. The ship showed there has a striking resemblance to Ada class corvettes. Two most obvious differences between this ship and the Ada class corvettes are this ship doesn’t have a gun in A position and any other weapons. The space between the mast and the funnel, where 8 Harpoon missiles are installed in Ada class ships doesn’t exist in the TaES. The aft of the superstructure is also slightly different. The superstructure aft of the funnel is larger since the TaES doesn’t have the STAMP remote-controlled gun system and anti-torpedo countermeasures system, the deck on which these systems are installed is added to the hull.

According to news reports, the TaEs will have an all diesel main propulsion whereas the Ada class ships have a combined gas turbine and diesel engines as main propulsion. The top speed of the TaES will be lower than Ada class corvettes.

Since TaES shares the same hull and superstructure of the Ada class corvettes, I believe the physical measurements of the TaES will be same or very similar of Ada class ships.

On the left are the mast and forward superstructure of the first Ada class corvette TCG Heybeliada. On the right are the mast and the forward structure of the Test and Evaluation Ship. Although the shape is similar, the number of supports on the mast of the TaES is much more compared to TCG Heybeliada. Obviously, more sensors will installed on TaES.

The stern view of the TaES and TCG Heybeliada. The TaES does have a flight deck and a hangar. But the shape of the superstructure at the aft is different.

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