The Death Of A Tanker

37 years ago to this day, in the very early hours, İstanbul was shaken by a large explosion. There was a huge firewall on the water and windows of many nearby houses were broken.

The Romanian tanker MT Independenta was waiting for the pilot, when the Greek cargo ship MV Evriali collided, at the southern entrance  of Bosphorus.

MT Independenta suffered 3 large explosions. Only 3 of her 43 strong crew survived the accident. The ship burned for days and created a huge environmental disaster.

My grandfather was lucky, to go on board and take some interesting yet grotesque and grim photos.   Some of them are below, to testify the intensity of the heat and days of burning.

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

My captured picture

Turkish Coast Guard Tows Future Qatari Coast Guard Boat

Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-70 prepares to tow QC-711. Photo: Turkish Coast Guard.

Turkish Coast Guard announced that, they have helped a boat drifting off the Coast of Antalya.

This boat was QC-711 one of the ARES 75 type boats constructed by ARES shipyard for Qatari Coast Guard. According to the Turkish Coast Guard press release, QC-711 had a malfunction during the builders trials and lost all power. Thus Turkish Coast Guard boat TCSG-70 was dispatched to tow the distressed boat back to the shipyard.

TCG Akçakoca Searched For Two Missing Georgian Soldiers

14034722_1076347405794087_7457743399754588091_n

TCG Akçakoca in Georgia. Photo: Georgian MoD.

On 20 August 2016, Aydın class mine hunter TCG Akçakoca entered Georgian waters for a sad mission.

According to Agenda.ge, Corporal Iago Sharadze and First Class Private Giorgi Nanetashvili were taking part in dive training on August 16 but failed to surface after the planned dive, which took place off the coast of Gonio in the Black Sea. The men’s bodies have not yet been found but they are presumed dead.

As a mine hunter TCG Akçakoca has the suitable equipment on board, to find small objects underwater. Thus sending her for search of the bodies of the Georgian soldiers was very appropriate. According to initial news, she was to stay in Georgia for 3 days. I could not find any news whether she has returned or not.

Georgian Defence Minister Levan Izoria visited the TCG Akçakoca.

“I met with the crew of the Turkish vessel. They are highly skilled and professional specialists. The vessel is equipped with high technology and modern rescue capabilities which makes possible to conduct the operation effectively. Readiness is huge. They intend to stay for three days. Thus, in case of necessity the rescue operation will continue”, said Minister of Defence Levan Izoria.

Coast Guard Boat Collided With A Merchant Ship And Capsized

TCSG25

TCSG-25 in her better days

Yesterday morning, during the morning rush hour, the Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-25 collided with the Cook Island flag and Turkish owned bulk carrier M/V Tolunay on Bosphorus. The accident happened near the southern entrance of Bosphorus. The coast guard boat capsized after the collision. Both civilian and military rescue ships and other vessels were rushed to the scene. Unfortunately 3 members of crew Rıza Yücel, Yavuz Gökhan Şahin and Sinan Göktaş died while the remaining 3 were rescued.

The boat was tasked to escort the Russian Natya class mine hunter Valentin Pikul which was returning from her Syrian deployment.

If you wonder -like me- how a slow and large bulk carrier could collide with a very fast and agile boat the video below gives us some clue. For a reason, not clear, to me the coast guard boats stays motionless in front of the bulker. At this point it was not possible for the merchant ship to see the boat or to stop.

After the collision the merchant ship sailed till the northern entrance of Bosphorus to Büyükdere Bay. That Bay is the first place along the Bosphorus where a safe anchorage without disturbing the transit traffic is possible. Conveniently the headquarters of Istanbul Coast Guard Command is also located there.

Lest We Forget: TCG Dumlupınar

On 4 April 1953, in the wee hours of the morning two Turkish submarines  TCG Dumlupınar and her sister boat TCG 1. İnönü,entered from the Aegean into the Dardanelles Strait, as the returning from the NATO naval exercise Blue Sea.

The Commodore of First Submarine Squadron was in command of the two submarines and he was on board of TCG Dumlupınar. When the submarine reached the Cape Nara, the narrowest point of the Strait the Swedish flagged cargo ship M/V Naboland collided with the submarine. The accident happened at 02:15 in the morning.

M/V Naboland rammed TCG Dumlupınar from starboard forecastle just aft of the forward diving planes. The submarine rolled to port with force of the impact and sunk immediately. 5 submariners who were in the sail at the time of the collision survived. Rest of the crew, 81 men, were trapped inside her hull. She sunk at the narrowest point of Dardanelles at 85 meters.

22 sailors trapped in the aft torpedo compartment were able to release the submarine’s sunk buoy. The rescuers above the water tried to give hope and moral but time was an enemy. Submarine rescue and salvage ships were rushed from the main naval base in Gölcük after the incident. But all efforts to reach the submarine and rescue the survivors failed cause of very strong water currents and insufficient equipment.

The last words from the submarine, before the currents tore the cable of buoy were: For our country.

Since that fateful day, on every 4th of April we remember those that have a watery grave were no rose will grow.

Greek Navy Heliopter Crashed

TCB44 kopya

A similar helicopter in Greek colors has crashed in Aegean Sea.

Two pilots and one technician lost their lives when an AB-212 helicopter of Greek Navy has crashed on 11th February 2016. The accident happened in the north Aegean near the island Kinaros.

The Agusta Bell helicopter was taking part in the night military exercise ‘hunder’. It had taken off from a frigate sailing in the area and disappeared from radar around 0045 GMT. Wreckage has been found near Kinaros,” a ministry official said.

Armed forces chief Vangelis Apostolakis said weather conditions had been normal at the time when radar contact and communications were lost.

He said only parts of the wreckage had been found, and that there was little hope that any of the crew would be found alive.

Turkey issued a Notice to Airmen saying the Greek rescue operation was within its maritime search and rescue region and that all efforts should be coordinated with Turkish authorities.

Greek Coast Guard Boat Run Aground In Turkish Territorial Waters

LS604

LS-604 of Hellenic Coast Guard, in one of her better days. Photo: Devrim Yaylalı

yunan_bot

A few meters more that the LS-604 would not be aground but on the ground. Photo: denizhaber.com

yunan_bot3

LS-604 finally free again. Photo: denizhaber.com

The Motomarine Pathner 57 MkII class patrol boat LS-604 of Greek Coast Guard ran aground inside Turkish territorial waters on 14 January 2015. The boat was in hot pursuit of the fast motor boat Rüzgar009 which was suspected of smuggling. The incident happened at 00.21 according to Turkish Coast Guard.

The grounding happened near Tuz Burnu north of Didim. Turkish Coast Guard dispatched one plane and several smaller boats to side at night. In the next morning one Dost class OPV and 3 smaller boats from Turkish Coast Guard were deployed to the incident side. The shallowness of the water made the re floating of LS-604 a bit tricky. The boat was however refloated on 15 January 2016 at 11.45.

The hull of the boat did not suffered any damages but her main machinery was not working. LS-604 was towed by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel to the outside of Turkish territorial water where the Greek Coast Gaurd vessel LS-020 resumed the towing.

Below is an official video ofrom Turkish Coast Guard. The first 3 minutes were taken by the coast guard plane at night.

What Will Happen On Maritime Front After The Shooting Of The Russian Fighter?

P1150478

Russian warship Korolev passing through Bosphorus on 28th November 2015

On 24 November 2015, one Turkish F-16 fighter, shoot down a Russian Su-24M fighter-bomber violating Turkish airspace.

The events happening after this incident are beyond the scope of this blog. I am going to try to explain this recent Turco-Russian crisis from a maritime point of view.

So what is going to happen on maritime front after the shooting down of the Russian fighter? The short answer is: Nothing.

The first reaction on Russian side, in maritime domain was to withdraw the naval officer working as a liaison between Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and Turkish Navy and suspend participation in the Black Sea Force (BLACKSEAFOR).

In accordance with the decision by the Russian Defense Ministry on terminating military contacts with Turkey, the participation of our Black Sea Fleet in the BLACKSEAFOR drills has been suspended,” said Komoyedov who was previously commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
“Also, a representative of the Russian Navy in charge of coordination between the Black Sea Fleet and the Turkish Navy has been recalled from Turkey,” Komoyedov said. “He has returned home,” he added.

The withdraw from BLACKSEAFOR is purely for the Russian public consumption. The BLACKSEAFOR was created by Turkey as a call of naval task force very similar to NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups. The Purpose of the BLACKSEAFOR was to develop the interoperability between the Black Sea nations and the create a mutual trust and cooperation between the navies. But the BLACKSEAFOR was stabbed in the back by Russia with the Georgian – Russian war in 2008. That conflict destroyed much of the work done by then. The annexation of Crimea by Russia was the final nail in the coffin. Since that event BLACKSEAFOR was in coma and the yearly activations of the task force were cancelled.therefore Russian decision of leaving BLACKSEAFOR has no value.

Another reaction was the deployment of the Slava class cruiser Mosvka off the coast of Syrian town Latakia.

“Cruiser” Moskva “, armed with air defense system” Fort “, on Wednesday morning took the position area in the region of Latakia. His means of radar and missile system will be able to provide cover videoconferencing Russian air group in Syria, “- a spokesman said.

On the eve of the chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy told reporters that the cruiser “Moskva”, equipped with air defense system “Fort”, takes the area near Latakia to strengthen defense. The exact date when not given.

Besides Mosvka, the following Russian ships are in the region:

  • Kashin class destroyer Smetliviy
  • Nanuchka III class corvette Mirazh
  • Vishnya class intelligence-gathering ship Vasiliy Tatischev
  • Tanker Ivan Bubnov
  • Tug MB-31
  • Amur class repair ship PM-56
  •  Oceanographic research ship Admiral Vladimirsky

And the following Russian ships are on the way to the region:

  • Ropucha class large landing ships Korolev and Tsezar Kunikov
  • Auxiliary cargo ship Vologda-50

Mosvka has passed through Turkish Straits on 25 September 2015 and she remained in the Eastern Mediterranean since that day.  Moskva has 8 vertical launcher for SA-N-6 ‘Grumble’ surface to air missiles with 8 rounds for each launcher. The SA-N-6 ‘Grumble’ also known as S-300F (Fort) is a navalised version of the S-300 surface to air missile system.  The ship based missile is the 5V55RM which has a minimum range of 5 kilometers and a maximum range on 75 kilometers.

The deployment of the cruiser, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, off the coast of Latakia will increase the protection for air base used by Russia and is more or less for the Russian public consumption.   I am quite sure that the captain of Moskva is not happy to act as a picket fence. As a picket fence the cruiser will be the first line of defence and there are not enough Russian warships to escort this capital ship should the crisis escalate.

In the unlikely event of escalation of the crisis between Turkey and Russia the cruiser Mosvka is alone and very vulnerable to the most potent Turkish weapon to be used: submarines.

According to the website of Turkish General Staff two submarines are conducting patrols in Eastern Mediterranean. TCG Dolunay is in the region since 11th November 2015 and TCG Burakreis since 7th November 2015.

Both sides have many warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in close vicinity and the tensions are high at the moment. But never the less I think any military escalation is very unlikely as this could potentially led to a large confrontation and in such event Turkey may evoke its right to close the Turkish Straits according to the article 20 of Montreux Convention.

Article 20. In time of war, Turkey being belligerent, the provisions of Articles 10 to 18 shall not be applicable; the passage of warships shall be left entirely to the discretion of the Turkish Government.

The Montreux Convention dictates a 8 day notification period for the Black Sea Powers. This means if any Black Sea nation wants to move their ships through Turkish Straits, they have to notify Turkey 8 days prior this crossing. Therefore if Russian Navy has decided on 24th November  after the shooting down of Su-24M, to send more warships to Syria, 2nd December 2015 is the earliest day these ships can pass through Turkish Straits.

Russia must have an unlimited access to Turkish Straits. The so called Syrian Express deployments of Russian Ropucha and Alligator class landing ships and auxiliaries are vitally important to keep Russian troops inside Syria supplied. If Russia cannot send its ships through Turkish Straits for any reason, the Russian soldiers deployed in Syria may find themselves in a very similar position of General Paulus’ Army. This is an important reason, why the Russian counter aggression to the shooting of its plane is (and will remain) asymmetrical. This is why Russians are trying to hurt Turkey with diplomatic and economical responses rather than military actions.

Seahawk Down

10690110_10152518241673565_3977085525932695606_n

Turkish Naval Aviation lost one of its S-70B Seahawk on 12 October 2014. The helicopter took off from the Cengiz Topel Naval Aviation airbase and was heading to Konya as the helicopter collided with a hill killing all servicemen on board.

Lieutenant Commander Deniz Akdeniz,
Sub Lieutenant  Çağrı Ceyhan,
Chief Petty Officer Mehmet Karakaşoğlu,
Chief Petty Officer Ömer Burak Öğüt,

paid the ultimate price for the defence of their country. We will miss them.

The Search For The Body Of Captain Nail Erdoğan Is Suspended

A-589 TCG Işın

A-589 TCG Işın. This old photo was taken on Bosphorus.

Turkish Navy stopped its search for the body of Turkish Air Force Captain Nail Erdoğan and the wreck of his plane a F-16D Fighting Falcon Block 40 of the 192nd Squadron with serial number 91-0023.

The pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Osman Çiçekli survived by using his ejection seat but Captain Nail Erdoğan died on 8 October 1996 when his F-16 D fighter plane crashed into the Aegean south of Samos island after a dog fight with Greek airplanes.

Turkish Navy was conducting a detailed search activity where the plane was assumed to have crashed. Aydın class mine hunters M-266 TCG Amasra and M-268 TCG Akçakoca, and the salvage ship A-589 TCG Işın were searching for the wreck of the plane since 14 April 2014, while fast attack craft P-341 TCG Martı provided escort.

The mine hunters cruised the search area for 614 hours. During this time they made sonar scans for 420 hours and used their PAP 104 Mk5 ROV’s for 19 hours. TCG Işın cruised for 260 hours and during this cruise she used her ROV for 48 hours. The divers on TCG Işın used the  ADS-1600 atmospheric diving suit for 19 hours.

During the deployment of these ships, 101 underwater contacts were investigated and most of them turned out to me geological objects. The few man-made object brought to surface was examined by Air Force experts and it was determined that these artifacts were not related to the missing plane.

According to a statement made by Turkish General Staff, the search has been finished at least for now until new information about the position of the airplane surfaces.

%d bloggers like this: