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Russian Intelligence Gathering Ship Liman, Sunk Off The Coast Of Istanbul

The stricken Liman look very much just like this ship, her sister Kildin. Here Kildin moving northbound in November 2016.

On 27th April 2017 the Russian intelligence gathering ship Liman sunk off the coast of Istanbul.

The Project 861 / Moma class ship of Russian Black Sea Fleet was approximately 17 nautical miles northwest of the northern entrance of Istanbul Strait when Togo flagged livestock carrier Youzarsif H hit Liman. The accident happened at 08.41 UTC (11:41 local time). There was fog and the visibility was limited. This part of the Black Sea is usually used as a staging area for the ships as the wait for their turn to sail the Bosphorus. Thus there are usually many ships either adrift or sailing with very slow speed.

It was apparently Youzarsif H that hit Liman since Russian ships hull was  breached below the waterline. Both ship are similar in displacement around 1.500 tons and size. The damage to the Russian ship has overwhelmed the damage control party and the ship sunk at 11:48 UTC (14:48 local time).

The proximate location of the incident.

Turkish Directorate General of Coastal Safety dispatched life boats Kıyı Emniyeti 3, Kıyı Emniyeti 6, Kıyı Emniyeyi 8 and tug Kurtarma 3 to the accident site.

Of the 78 sailors on board of Liman, 26 were rescued by life boat Kıyı Emniyeti 3, 37 by Kıyı Eminyeti 8 and 15 by Youzarsif H. There are no casualties.

Liman was one of the 3 Project 861M / Moma class intelligence gathering ships. All are based in the Black Sea. The ship was deployed to the Mediterranean in Winter 2016 and was last seen passing northbound through Istanbul on 26 January 2017.

Liman was not expected to pass southbound through Istanbul Strait. This means she was sailing just outside of the Turkish territorial waters for collecting intelligence.

Intelligence gathering ships are equipped with highly sensitive sensors, special eavesdropping hardware and software to record and decipher the collected data. Some of the sailors on board must be “scientist” specialized gathering and interpreting data. A good question is whether the Russians had time to destroy the sensitive equipment before abandoning the ship. Another question is whether there will be any efforts to raise the ship or salvage any sensitive equipment that was not destroyer by the crew.

Though we don’t have details, how the accident ever happened and who was right according to COLREG, it is kind a ironic, that a ship with a mission to gather all the intelligence around it, fails to see an ungainly merchant ship sailing directly on it.

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Update On TCSG-25’s Collision With M/V Tolunay

On 17 August 2016, Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-25 collided with the Cook Island flag and Turkish owned bulk carrier M/V Tolunay, near the southern entrance of Bosphorus.

TCSG-25 was tasked to escort the Russian Natya class mine hunter Valentin Pikul which was returning from her Syrian deployment. The coast guard boat capsized after the collision.  Lieutenant Ali Rıza Yücel, Petty Officers Yavuz Gökhan Şahin, Bülent Demirkaya and rating Sinan Göktaş died while the remaining 3 crew members were rescued.

The captain of M/V Tolunay, Abdullah Hamadı and 2 members of the crew are currently on trial. They are charged with causing death and injury through negligence. The prosecution asks for imprisonment from 4.5 years to 22.5 years.

There is a video taken by a sailor on board of the Russian mine sweeper showing the accident. TCSG-25 had the agility and the speed to sprint and move away from the merchant ship.

Lest We Forget: TCG Dumlupınar

On 4 April 1953, two Turkish submarines, TCG Dumlupınar and TCG 1. İnönü, entered Dardanelles southbound. They were returning from the NATO naval exercise Blue Sea.

TCG Dumlupınar was leading the two ship formation. When the submarine reached Cape Nara, the narrowest point of the Strait, a 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. The boat sunk at the narrowest point of Dardanelles at 85 meters where the currents are also the strongest.

22 sailors trapped in the aft torpedo compartment, were able to release the submarine’s sunk buoy. There was a frantic effort to reach the submarine and is possible to rescue the trapped sailors for the next 72 hours.

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

An Epilogue To An Incident

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As I wrote this post on 31st December 2016 at 16.00 local time, the Turkish flagged vessel M/V Alcatras was still grounded in Lambi beach, Kos island.

But as you can see from the videos below some of her cargo was transferred to another Turkish flagged vessel and is gone back to Turkey.

A Prototype Of A Turkish Air Defence Gun System Is Aground On A Greek Island

alcatras

The above photo shows Aselsan’s naval version of Korkut air defence gun system. The below photo shows the grounded vessel Alcatras and her cargo. A is the 3D search radar. The shape of the radar and the neck of the mast is very distinct. B is the fire control radar on the turret. Though the turret is covered on the boat, the shape and the height is consistent with the uncovered turret. The arrow shows the direction of the barrels. The photo above is from Twitter user @TyrannosurusRex. The photo below is from The Toc.

I don’t know what to say. Should I call it a Greek tragedy or a Turkish comedy? A brand-new prototype of locally developed naval air defence system ended up, grounded on a Greek Island.

The whole episode started like many others. The Turkish flagged M/V Alcatras experienced a rudder failure as she was sailing from Tuzla, Istanbul to Antalya, according to the captain’s statement. Being unable to steer she run aground on Kos island at approximately 100 m from the beach of Lambi. Such incidents do happen in the Aegean Sea quite often.

M/V Alcatras is a 28 meters long vessels. She bears all the characteristics of a large Turkish fishing vessel designed to work on the seas around Turkey. But she is has no fishing gear installed. She is registered as a diving tender. The old photos of the vessel in Marine Traffic shows a typical working boat, with the superstructure in front and a large working area at aft.

When M/V Alcatras was grounded in Kos however she was loaded with what appears as two white containers for accommodation or for working and one green container. Furthermore she has one medium hight mast with a covered top and another structure also totally covered. This is the valuable cargo. The mast and the covered cargo have the distinct shape of the naval air defence gun system developed by Aselsan.

Aselsan has developed for Turkish Army a self propelled air defense gun system called Korkut. One Korkut unit consists one command and control vehicle with a 3D search radar (marked A on the photo above) and 3 gun vehicles, each fitted with a twin 35mm air defence gun and a fire control radar. The twin guns are Oerlikon GDF-002 units produced under licence by MKEKThe development of Korkut has recently reached the field testing phase and some vehicles were delivered to Turkish Army for this purpose.

The naval Korkut was loaded on M/V Alcatras in Istanbul and she was heading to Antalya. There are no naval construction facilities in Antalya. M/V Alcatras was not merely transporting the system from Tuzla to Antalya. It is safe to assume once in Antalya, the vessel was to conduct tests on the open sea. Hence there are containers on board too. The location of the turret proivdes a wide arc of fire from the side.

There were rumors that a navalised air defence gun system based on Korkut was also on development but there was no concrete evidence. First the photo of the prototype was published on Twitter. Later the news about the grounding of a Turkish vessel with a mysterious cargo was published. Now, we and our neighbours know that we have developed a prototype of such a system.

The Greek website OnAlert reported that the cargo of M/V Alcatras was transferred to another vessel to lighten up the around ship.

Since there is no official statements about the incident, there is a (though small) possibility that my story may turn out to be wrong. And I would like to thank Alper Böler for his carefull observation.

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

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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.

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