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USS Vella Gulf Conducts Exercise with Turkish Navy

140808-N-ZE250 118  BLACK SEA, (Aug. 8, 2014) Turkish Navy vessel TCG Tuzla (P1200) steams past Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) after completing maneuvering exercises in the Black Sea. Vella Gulf, homeported in Norfolk, Va., is conducting naval operations with allies in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in order to advance security and stability in Europe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones/Released)

Turkish Navy vessel P-1200 TCG Tuzla steams past Ticonderoga class cruiser CG-72 USS Vella Gulf , after completing maneuvering exercises in the Black Sea. Photo: U.S. Navy by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones

According to the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet web site, the Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Vella Gulf conducted a division tactics exercise with the Turkish navy fast attack craft TCG Tuzla in the Black Sea on 8 August 2014.

Vella Gulf and Tuzla conducted tactical maneuvering during the exercise. U.S. Navy ships regularly hold similar events with allies and partners to foster relationships and strengthen interoperability.

“Once again, Vella Gulf was pleased to participate in an at-sea training exercise with our NATO ally Turkey,” said Capt. Robert Katz, Vella Gulf’s Commanding Officer. “Our continuing interactions with the Turkish Navy during this deployment have increased cooperation and strengthened interoperability through regular combined training events.”

Well I must make a correction to the above statement.

TCG Tuzla is not classified as an fast attack craft by Turkish Navy. She is a patrol craft, a gun boat with a sonar and ASW mortar. Turkish Navy classifies vessels with anti-ship missiles as fast attack craft such as Doğan, Yıldız, Kılıç or Kartal class boats.

I have found the matching of the ships a little peculiar. USS Vella Gulf is one of the largest combatants in US Navy inventory with the exception of the carriers while TCG Tuzla is one of the smallest combatants in Turkish Navy inventory. Was this by design or by coincidence?

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9 Responses to USS Vella Gulf Conducts Exercise with Turkish Navy

  1. Kevin Brent says:

    The matching of ships was probably by design for the exercise. There’s a bit of weakness in USN AEGIS vessel training when it comes to tracking and engaging small, fast naval vessels. Those AEGIS vessel crews have always been focused on area air defense, rather than surface defense.

    As for miss-labeling Tuzla, a ‘fast attack craft’, I’m afraid that’s a holdover in terminology from the Cold War Era. It’s a ‘blanket’ term to cover anything smaller than an FF or FFG. Surface Warfare Community has asked for years for that to be revamped to no avail I’m afraid.

    • Hi Kevin, this makes sense. Remember USS Vincennes was distracted by small surface boats when she shot down the Iranian airliner.

      • Kevin Brent says:

        Yes, and that time especially, small boats were one tactic that had not been considered as a threat to a warship, only a threat to unescorted merchant shipping.

  2. mick says:

    Well, the cruisers, of which there are only a few (11,300 tons, 567 feet), aren’t all that much bigger than Arleigh-Burkes (9800 tons, 505 feet). Any of the LHD/LHA ships, deep draft supply ships, etc. are bigger than a cruiser, plus carriers (and I assume the LHD/A ships count as ones)aren’t allowed into the Black Sea at all. There really aren’t a lot of smaller “matched” ships available as there are few frigates left (Many of them are now in the Turkish Navy) and the Vella Gulf is assigned to the area. So I think it is more availability than anything else.

    • Kevin Brent says:

      The Ticonderoga Class cruisers such as Vella Gulf and Arleigh Burke Class destroyers are both of the same prototype hull design developed for the now retired Spruance Class and Kidd Class (Ayatollah Class) destroyers.

      All three classes, are essentially light cruisers, while US Navy frigates filled the traditional roles of ‘destroyers’. The reason designations changed, was due to the roles the ships served in. Frigates became primarily anti-submarine warfare and shed all their other primary functions to the above three classes, such as air defense, surface warfare and naval gunfire support for amphibious assaults.

      South Korea’s new AEGIS ‘destroyer’ is bigger and even more potent, than the ‘cruiser’ Vella Gulf.

      • If I may..The Tico class cruisers share the same hull design as the Spruance Class destroyers. The Arleigh Burke Class is a newer hull design being shorter length and wider beam.

      • timhogan21 says:

        US should be able to have 2 or maybe 3 DDG’s in Black Sea if some Black Sea state requests: Under Montreaux. All the time. 24/7.

      • Kevin Brent says:

        It’s merely a modification of the same design. The same has been done throughout the history of naval architecture with numerous designs, including Arleigh Burke Class itself. A change in shape or contour below the water line, is what makes a new/different hull design. Not a change in measurements.

  3. timhogan21 says:

    I would not think anything that might be claimed to be a large scale NATO show of force in the Black Sea would be prudent considering present situation in the region. Perhaps the goal is simply to have the Aegis radar on station as much as possible.

    Russia hates having any US ships in the Black Sea. I believe that much of what set the Russian leader off dates back to when he started fuming over the two USN ships sitting 20 miles off his coast at Sochi protecting him from the terrorists. Anytime we sail in there Turkey gets an earful from Moscow. In these times, less is definitely more.

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