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


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


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.

USS Taylor Departs Samsun

While USS Truxtun sailed towards the Black Sea another US Navy warship is trying to leave it.

The Perry class frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor is being towed towards Souda, Creta. USS Taylor was with USS Mount Whitney, the flag-ship of US 6th Fleet port of the US Navy’s Olympic Deployment. Both ships arrived just before the 2014 Olympic games and were supposed to stay during the games on position outside of Russian waters.

On 12 January 2014, the frigate run aground as she was about to be docked at Samsun harbour for refueling. The frigates sole propeller was damaged rendering the ship unable to move.  Since then, USS Taylor remained  docked at Samsun port.

USS Taylor (FFG 50) departed the Turkish port of Samsun, March 7, for Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, for repairs following the Feb. 12 grounding incident. The ship was moved with the assistance of a tug from Donjon Towing Company. 

NSA Souda Bay was chosen as the closest location with the most robust U.S. Navy support and logistics infrastructure. 

Repairs to Taylor will include replacement of the propeller blades and propeller hub. Repairs are expected to take several weeks. Following completion of repairs, Taylor will continue its scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th and 5th Fleet areas of operations. 

While the brilliantly worded text of the U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs keeps the reader in suspense whether the frigate is towed by the tug or not, the photos taken in Samsun clearly provide us the answer:

USS Taylor being puılled away from Samsun. Photo: Anadolu Ajansı, via gettyimages.

USS Taylor being pulled away from Samsun. Photo: Anadolu Ajansı, via gettyimages.

I would appreciate any information regarding the tug.

Update On USS Taylor

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo:www.6n1k.com.tr

Today the governor of Samsun made a written statement about the damage of US Navy frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor.

According to this statement,  initially USS Taylor arrived in Samsun on 12 February, for a very short port visit just to get refueled. Unfortunately the ships propeller stuck the sea ground and got damaged. She has been docked at Samsun port since then. 39 US citizens and all the equipment needed for the repair were flown. Divers from Turkish Coast Guard are escorting the repair work going on underwater. It is estimated that USS Taylor will stay in Samsun till 24 February 2014.

If it takes additional 39 people and an disclosed amount of extra equipment and material to be flown for the repair work, the damage is worse that initially reported.

USS Taylor Damaged In Samsun

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo:www.6n1k.com.tr

Foreign ships visiting Turkish harbors usually stay for 3 or 4 days. Thus I was quite curious about the extended stay of us Perry class frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun, Turkey.  I my opinion she should have left three days ago Samsun in order to join USS Mount Whitney off the coast of Sochi to do circles.

A short news article in gave a very plausible explanation why the stay of USS Taylor was extended. Apparently her screw touched the ground when she was mooring in Samsun harbour. According the Vice Governor of Samsun, Haluk Şimşek the screw of the ship touched the bottom of the sea when the ship was maneuvering for docking and it was damaged. There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation. So is the damage to the ship. There was a minor spill of about 176 gallons of fuel, according to a report from ABC News

The Perry class ships  have one shaft and one screw. This was a deliberate and a very bold decision by US Navy in order to keep the production simple and cheap. But having one single shaft and screw creates an Achilles Heel for the Perry class ships as if there is a damage to a shaft, screw or to rudder it is very much possible that the ship lost is ability to move. The Perry class is equipped with an auxiliary propulsion system to take the ship back to port if it looses its main propulsion. But this auxiliary system is not much help in the case of USS Taylor.

Samsun harbour is notorious. An Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Barry had a similar incident back in 2008. She was able to sail without any restrictions afterwards. 

Update On The Capsizing Of TCG Değirmendere

A video showing the capsizing of the tug TCG Değirmedere has been published on the internet.

This video contradicts many facts of the news story I have based my reporting earlier: apparently there is no order to abandon the ship, the trying to balance the ship. Everything happens to quickly and I hate to say that most of the original news story I have used is full of uncastrated adult male bovine droppings.

Here is the link to the video: http://videogaleri.gazetevatan.com/video-izle/10-sehit-veren-Romorkor-un-alabora-olma-ani-cep-telefonunda-MsfuDSwaU55J.html

It is still early to pin point the exact course of the accident but it seems that a number of mistakes caused this incident.

The Capsizing Of TCG Değirmendere

TCG Değirmendere capsized in the floating dry dock. Photo: TRTHaber.

TCG Değirmendere capsized in the floating dry dock. Photo: TRTHaber.

I was away for a short holiday and quite important and sad things happened in my absence. So this next few post will be an effort to update this blog.

The tug A-576 TCG Değirmendere capsized inside the floating dock as she was being floated.  17 people injured and sadly 10 people was killed during this incident.

The tug was being overhauled on the floating dry dock in Alaybey Naval Shipyard in İzmir. According to news reports, on 23 December 2013 as the floating dry dock was lowered into water to allow TCG Değirmendere and some other minor craft to be floated out some of the keel blocks moved causing the tug to list to the port side first. The signal for abandoning the ships was given but some of the crew tried to balance the ship by its ballast tank. The crew of the tug and a 10 strong salvage team was trying to stabilize the ship when she capsized to starboard side. 17 people who were on the tug at time of the incident fell to the water and were injured by falling objects. The 10 who died were inside the engine room and were suffocated when the fire extinguishing systems automatically started to filling the space with carbon monoxide.

Both technical and juridical investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident.

My condolences to the families of the deceased, may they rest in peace.

Lest We Forget: DM-357 TCG Muavenet

I have missed the anniversary of the incident of TCG Muavenet being hit. So I am reposting one of my earlier post about this incident:

DM-357 TCG Muavenet was a special ship for me. This picture of hers, which I have taken back in 29 October 1989, was my very first photo to be published in Jane’s Fighting Ships in 1991 edition.

On 2th October 1992, 11 minutes past midnight, during the NATO’s Display Determination ’92 naval exercise, two Sea Sparrow surface to air missiles fired accidentally from the aircraft carrier CV-60 USS Saratoga, hit the bridge of the Turkish destroyer DM-357 TCG Muavenet. 5 sailors including the commander of the ship were killed instantly and 15 badly hurt. A fire broke out on board. At the time of the incident two ships were 3 miles apart and were streaming north in the Aegean.

According the United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit the fateful events unfolded as follows:

“On October 1, 1992, the Combat Direction Center Officer aboard the Saratoga decided to launch a simulated attack on nearby opposition forces utilizing the Sea Sparrow missile system. After securing the approval of the Saratoga’s Commanding Officer and the Battle Group Commander, the Combat Direction Center Officer implemented the simulated assault plan. Without providing prior notice, officers on the Saratoga woke the enlisted Sea Sparrow missile team and directed them to conduct the simulated attack.

Certain members of the missile firing team were not told that the exercise was a drill, rather than an actual event. As the drill progressed, the missile system operator used language to indicate he was preparing to fire a live missile, but due to the absence of standard terminology, the responsible officers failed to appreciate the significance of the terms used and the requests made. Specifically, the Target Acquisition System operator issued the command “arm and tune,” terminology the console operators understood to require arming of the missiles in preparation for actual firing.

The officers supervising the drill did not realize that “arm and tune” signified a live firing. As a result, the Saratoga inadvertently fired two live Sea Sparrow missiles at the TCG Muavenet. Both missiles struck the TCG Muavenet, resulting in several deaths and numerous injuries.”

According to a report prepared by Turkish Naval Military Prosecutor’s Office on November 11, 1992 the Saratoga was with the visible horizon and the launch of the missiles were observed on TCG Muavenet.

One of the missiles hit the ship approximately after a flight of ten seconds. The first missile hit the front of the ships bridge and destroyed it. The second missile exploded in the air probably because the blast of the first missile and peppered the ship with shrapnel. Ships radar antenna, forward gun turrets, hedgehog launcher suffered from the shrapnel damage. The pieces of the second missile penetrated the forward gun turret, cabins of the supply officer and XO.

A fire started at the ammunition chamber of the Hedgehog system. The explosion of the Hedgehog rounds would have caused the loss of the ships. After the hits general quarters were sounded and the fire fighting teams started to tackle the fire. On the other hand the damage control teams were throwing the ready ammunition in the forward gun turrets and other explosives near the fire over the board as a safety measure.

When the situation was under control TCG Muavenet was towed to the Gölcük Naval Base. And the exercise continued as planned.

The damage to the old ship was extensive. She was not useable anymore therefore she was decommissioned right away. Later US gave Knox class FFG-1093 USS Capodanno as compensation.

The fire was under control in 10 minutes but the water caused damage in the decks that were not harmed in the initial blast.

These two photos were taken after TGC Muavenet was towed to Gölcük Naval Base.

The extend of the damage resulting both from missile impact and fire is obvious. It was quite a skill to bring the fire under control before reached to the gun turret in B position. If the fire has spread further to the turrets and ammunition chambers of the guns, the she would not have survived.

All the fire fighting and damage control efforts were done in the absence of the commander of the ship. This fact speaks for the professionalism of the officers and the bravery of the whole crew. They simply did not give up the ship.

Commander Kudret Güngör
Ensign Alertunga Akan
Petty Officer 3th Class Serkan Aktepe
Sergant Mustafa Kılınç
Private Recep Akan

Paid the ultimate price for the defence of their country.

For further reading:
US Navy Court of Inquiry

Turkish Navy Court of Inquiry


An interesting but technical legal article about why USA did not paid indemnities to the Turkish sailors

Greek Submarine Ran Aground

Two tugs assits the grounded submarine Proteus. Photo: Flashnews.gr

Two tugs assits the grounded submarine Proteus. Photo: Flashnews.gr

According to Greek defence.point.gr, one Greek submarine has ran aground in Souda Bay, Crete.

As announced by the Navy General Staff, the Submarine PROTEUS during sailing in the bay of Souda Bay, Crete, and during evasive ship moved near shore and epakoumvise an ancient underwater pier.

No member of the crew was injured, the submarine is not a security problem and there has been no damage.

Perform actions for detachment of the ship and return to Naval Base Souda for scrutiny.

The 209 Type 1100 class submarine S-113 HS Proteus which ran aground was one of the four submarines which recevied and upgrade in Greek service. HS Proteus and her sisters were given a “weapons discharge and fire control update” as early as 1991‐1992, enabling them to fire Sub‐Harpoon anti‐ship missiles.

The modernisation package included Sub Harpoon, flank array sonar, Unisys FCS, Sperry Mk 29 Mod 3 inertial navigation system, GPS and Argos ESM.

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