>My Impressions From 3.Naval Systems Seminar

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I have attended the first day of the naval systems seminar yesterday. The naval systems seminar has started as a one day event, three years ago. The aim was to bring the ship building industry, Turkish Navy and the procurement agency together to exchange ideas. This year’s event has spread on two days but my schedule prevented me to attend the second days presentations.

In the morning there were presentations of Mr. Murad Bayar, Under secretary for Defence Industries, and Mr. Serdar Demirel, the Head of Naval Platforms Department of UDI.

Mr Bayar’s presentation was important as it outlined the general situation of the naval projects of Turkey.

In 2005, when we had organised a meeting for the Turkish ship buıilding indusrty to present our vision and future procurement plans nobody tokk us seriosly. But today during the economical crisis al existing shipyards are comming to us to disscuss the futue projects.

This quotation of Mr Bayar, is a bold and honest statement. Most of the Turkish shipyards did not take UDI for serious, whey they were making easy money on commercial constructions. They did not want to take the extra burden of building to higher military standards, do the necessary documentation and follow the standards of project management, procurement etc. Now when there is very little commercial order on the books the military projects are getting very delicious. But for the most of the shipyards that train is long gone.

Mr. Demirel pointed out the current and future acquisition projects of Turkish Navy can only sustain 7 shipyards at the maximum. But even this number might be a little optimistic.

This means in the coming years there will be tougher bidding wars for the remaining projects among the shipyards.

He also mentioned that for the continuation of the current status quo in the industry the shipyards must protect their own suppliers as UDI protects the shipyards.

There were two more presentations in the morning session. One was made by RMK Marine shipyard of the Koç conglomerate: The other was done by the leading system entegrator Havalsan. Both companies wanted bigger pieces of the cake and asked for the next big naval projects like LPD and Milgem.

There were more presentations in the afternoon. But two stand out in my opinion. One was made by Navantia. The company presented their latest LPH Juan Carlos I which was commissioned in Spanish Navy recently. This presentation made me realize how complex a LPH/LPD is to design, build and operate. The ship must be a passenger ship (a Spartan one) for the military force she projects. The ship must be at the same time A RO/RO for the rolling stock of this military force. She must be a carrier for the air wing she carries. She must be a hospital ship for the wounded. She is a water factory and a bakery for the people in need at a time of a humanitarian disaster. And al these roles must be covered almost simultaneously.

The other presentation was from Dr. Ekber Onuk the vice president of the Yonca Onuk JV. He told us how the use of moderns construction aids such as CAD/CAM, the use of high tech materials and effective R&D helped the shipyard to become one of the leading companies in its sector. Theirs boats are sold to Georgia, Egpyt, UAE, Maleysia and Pakistan.

The most disappointing presentation of the day was made by BAE Systems Surface Ships. They presented theirs Type 45 destroyer and Type 26 frigate. But the presentation was so dull and the presenter was so unimpressive, I got the feeling that BAE Systems was not interesting in promoting their ships and was here only by gun point.

The news and gossip of the day can be summaries as:
1. The second SAR ship being constructed by RMK will be launched in November and the sea trails of the first ships will begin in December.
2. The first NTPB AB-1200 is scheduled for commissioning toward the end of the year.
3. There is a lot of progress made regarding the sea based guided weapon systems. The rumor is that the Norwegians are short of achieving a sales and export break through for their NSM.
4. The right conjuncture is being waited for the TF-200 air defence frigate and next generation of AOR’s. In other words the funding of these projects is not secure yet.
5. The sixth ship to receive the Genesis is F-495 TCG Gediz. She will also have the Mk-41 VLS systems integrated. But the 3D Smart radar will not be delivered on time so she will receive another overhaul for the radar. She is estimated to be ready at the end of the year but this estimation may be a little too optimistic.
6. Network centric warfare is a buzz word here too. New combat management systems will have integrated Link-11-16-22 capabilities.

And my impressions in general are:
1. There was more excitement in the air during the last year’s event. The companies were more eager to show off their projects and capabilities. This year that excitement was not evident.
2. The UDI is still going on the road map and industrial master plan it had created for the Turkish ship building. And the rest of the industry is at least for the time being willing to follow it.
3. The ongoing projects are well funded and there is no problem there. But how secure the funds of the impending or planed projects were never ever mentioned. Thus it remains as a big question mark.
4. While I was visiting the exhibition booths, I come up to MAM’s. There was on display the first sonar transducer ever built in Turkey. There was a very lovely and talkative guy, who explained me how they have worked on the first Turkish built national sonar transducer and how they have build the first national sonar as a system. He also told me how they constructed the national Underwater Research Center at MAM for R&D projects and calibration of the national sonar. The only catch was that this nice guy spoke only English and that with a heavy Slavic accent. He was everything but Turkish. Yet he was obviously happy and proud to be a part of this project. Applied physic, money and nationalism make strange bedfellows after all.

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