NATO Naval Taskforces End Their Deployment To The Black Sea

The flagship of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two FGR Rhein, during her southbound transit through Istyanbul.

Turkish contribution to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two, TCG Anamur making her southbound passage through Istanbul as the taskforce departs from the Black Sea. A new minehunter will replace her for the future deployment of SNMCMG-2.

On early July, flagships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein arrived in Bulgarian port Burgas for the Bulgarian led exercise Breeze 2018. Replenishment ship FS Marne of Marine Nationale and Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos followed them. BREEZE 2018 from 13 to 20 July.

The exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability of the participating units and strengthen cooperation by practicing different warfare techniques in a multi-dimensional scenario. Multinational participating forces and their crews will be tested in a wide range of warfare tactics focusing on regional security.

Bulgaria as host took part with 16 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 2 helicopters and staff of 930 members. Two aircraft of the Bulgarian Air Force and units of the Land Forces were also involved in the exercise with most ships. Turkey was the second largest contributor to the exercise with TCG Fatih for SNMG-2 and minehunter TCG Anamur for SNMCMG-2, submarine TCG Gür, fast attack craft TCG İmbat and one patrol plane.

In total 25 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 1 submarine, 4 aircraft, 5 helicopters and 2,340 service members from the navies of Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the USA, Turkey, France, the Netherlands took part in the exercise, which was held from 13th to 20th July.

Following the conclusion of the exercise Sea Breeze Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos and French replenishment tanker, FS Marne exited the region while the remaining ships of both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

After the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and warships BerdyanskVyshgorod, Kremenchuk, Lubny, and Pochaiv also took part in this PASSEX.

Upon leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

On the first day of August 2018, both HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein departed from the Black Sea ending their deployment in the region.

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SNMG-2 Ships Arrived In Samsun

SNMG-2 ships are making a port visit in Samsun. Photo:Erik Weststrate

Earlier this week, both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa, Ukraine between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

Following the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and other Ukrainian warships.

After leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

The flagship of the SNMG-2 HNLMS De Ruyter, TCG Fatih and Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand have arrived in Samsun on 28th July 2018. ON 28 July they were open to public. The ships will leave Samsun on 30th July and will sail to Istanbul to exit The Black Sea.

Turkish Navy Conducts Another SINKEX

Turkish Navy disposed of another decommissioned warship by sending it to the Davy Jones’ Locker with a big bang.

Ay class submarine TCG Yıldıray commissioned in service in 1981, sunk the decommissioned tanker TCG Sadettin Gürcan. She was decommissioned in November 2016, after 46 years of service.

The ship was named after Lieutenant Commander Sadettin Gürcan the commander of the submarine TCG Atılay. This submarine was lost with all hands in July 1942 as she hit submerged an old naval mine from First World War off Dardanelles Strait.

The decommissioned tanker was observed being towed towards to the Black Sea in February 2018. She had markings painted on her bow were consistent with previous targets towed to the Black Sea.

According to unconfirmed reports, the torpedo fires from TCG Yıldıray was an SST-4 Mod 0.

Just 8 months ago, in October 2017 Turkish Navy conducted another SINKEX in the Black Sea. In that exercise, the Oliver Hazard Perry-class hull, ex-USS Duncan was sunk by an Mk-24 Mod. 2 Tigerfish torpedo.

On 11th June 2018, two Ay class submarines were observed sailing towards the Black Sea. One of them is TCG Yıldıray. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to tell you which is which but here are the photos of the two submarines:

Notes On Deniz Yıldızı 2018 Naval Exercise

On 26 March 2018 Turkish Navy started its spring exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2018. Ships departed from their ports and the first phase of the exercise was held in the Marmara Sea. On 27 March 2018 Turkish warships passed northbound through Istanbul and continued the exercise in the Black Sea. The exercise will end on 5th April

Though it has not been officially announced, the decommissioned oiler ex Binbaşı Saadetin Gürcan, that was observed being towed to the Black Sea in February is believed to be sunk as a target.

This weekend these warships are dispersed all over the ports in the Black Sea for a well earned weekend break. Turkish warships are simultaneously visiting Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, and Ukraine. It is neither an easy nor a simple act of sending 8 warships to foreign cities for port visits and small scale exercises at the same time.

The list of the warships taking part in the exercise and their port of call for the weekend is below:

Number Name Type Port Country
S-360 1. İnönü Submarine Varna Bulgaria
P-1207 Tekirdağ Patrol Boat Varna Bulgaria
A-578 Darıca Tug Varna Bulgaria
F-242 Fatih Frigate Batumi Georgia
P-343 Volkan Fast Attack Craft Batumi Georgia
F-504 Bartın Frigate Constanta Romania
P-331 Kalkan Fast Attack Craft Constanta Romania
Novorossiysk Russia
Novorossiysk Russia
A-572 Yüzbaşı İhsan Tulunay Tanker Giresun Turkey
F-240 Yavuz Frigate Hopa Turkey
P-341 Martı Fast Attack Craft İğneada Turkey
S-350 Yıldıray Submarine Karadeniz Ereğli Turkey
A-580 Akar Tanker Karadeniz Ereğli Turkey
F-245 Oruçreis Frigate Rize Turkey
F-247 Kemalreis Frigate Samsun Turkey
S-349 Batıray Submarine Samsun Turkey
F-243 Yıldırım Frigate Sinop Turkey
F-500 Bozcaada Corvette Trabzon Turkey
P-335 İmbat Fast Attack Craft Trabzon Turkey
P-336 Zıpkın Fast Attack Craft Zonguldak Turkey
F-246 Salihreis Frigate Odessa Ukraine
F-512 Büyükada Corvette Odessa Ukraine

It is interesting to note that Novorossiysk, Russia was declared the fifth foreign port of call by Turkish Navy on 16th March 2018, in the pre-exercise press release. However, Novorossiysk was not mentioned by the daily dispatch of Turkish General Staff on 31st March 2018, as one of the ports where Turkish Navy ships are conducting a visit.

On the other hand, the same dispatch mentioned 23 warships are taking part in the Deniz Yıldızı exercise but only disclosed names and location of 21 warships. So there could be two warships conducting a port visit in Novorossiysk, Russia or not.

Another interesting thing to note is the absence of Gabya ex-Perry class frigates. Turkish Navy operates 8 Gabya class frigates. None was observed to pass to the Black Sea recently.

Here are the photos of some of the participants:

A-572 TCG Yüzbaşı İhsan Tulunay.

A-580 TCG Akar

F-243 TCG Yıldırım. Note the new ESM mast.

F-245 TCG Oruçreis

F-247 TCG Kemalreis

F-500 TCG Bozcaada

F-504 TCG Bartın. Both TCG Bozcaada and TCG Bartın have their original MM-38 Exocet missiles still installed.

F-512 TCG Büyükada

TCG İmbat

P-343 TCG Volkan

NATO Task Forces Arrive In Bulgarian Ports

Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand (left) and Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep (right). The mast of the HMS Duncan is visible at the background. Photo: BTA

After meeting up in Constanta, Romania last week, the both UK led NATO maritime task forces  SNMG-2 and SNMCMG-2 have arrived in Bulgaria.

The mine countermeasure warfare task force made a port call in Burgas while the naval task force arrived in Varna.

Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group Two (SNMCMG2), under the command of Royal Navy Commander Justin Hains, will depart from Burgas on 11th February. The task group consists of the Romanian minesweeper ROS Lupu Dinescu, Turkish mine hunter M-270 TCG Akçay and  H-88 HMS Enterprise the flagship of the task force.

Standing NATO Group Two (SNMG2), under the command of Royal Navy Commodore Mike Utley OBE, will depart from Varna on 11th February. The task group consists of the Romanian frigate F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand, Turkish frigate F-490 TCG Gaziantep and D-37 HMS Duncan the flagship of the task force.

TCG Akçay Discovers An Old Mine Off Romanian Coast

M-270 TCG Akçay, seen here passing northbound through Istanbul 16 days ago.

Aydın class minehunter TCG Akçay has discovered a mine probably a relic of Second World War, as she was conducting training operations with SNMCMG-2 off the coast of Romania.

The NATO task force made its northbound passage through Turkish Straits 16 days ago.

The mine was discovered at 8 A.M. local time while TCG AKÇAY, under the command of Turkish Navy Lieutenant Commander Abdulla Yildiz, was using her mine hunting sonar to scan the sea bed and the water below her. The crew detected an object, which was thought to be a potential mine.  TCG AKÇAY then used her Remote Controlled Mine Discovery Vehicle (RCMDV) to investigate the possible mine further.  The RCMDV is remotely controlled from the mine hunter and used to identify mine-like objects using an onboard camera. If necessary, the RCMDV can also lay a 100kg explosive charge to destroy the mine.

SNMCMG2 was conducting mine countermeasure training with the Romanian Navy just off the Romanian coast near Constanta when the historic ordinance was discovered.  The area in question is shown on maritime charts as a formally mined area and this means that this is likely to be an historic mine.  The mine sits on the seabed at approximately 40 metres depth.  Images show that the mine is still attached to the ‘sinker’ or weight, which means that it likely didn’t deploy correctly when it was laid. Normally these mines were suspended mid water, attached to the weight on the seabed.

“Finding this historic mine demonstrates NATO’s capability to find uncharted mines in the Black Sea,” said Royal Navy Commander Justin Hains, Commander of SNMCMG2. “We work hard to practice our skills to ensure safe sea lanes. Identification and disposal of historic ordnance is just part of the mission.”

NATO is liaising with the Romanian authorities with regards to the neutralization or disposal of the mine

NATO SNMCMG-2 In Sinop

M-270 TCG Akçay the Turkish contribution to SNMCMG-2, passing through Istanbul.

The flagship of the SNMCMG-2, H-88 HMS enterprise passing through Istanbul

The UK led NATO mine warfare task force Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 made a northbound passage through Turkish Straits last week and arrived in Sinop, Turkey on 25th January for a 4-day port visit.

The SNMCMG-2 is Romanian minesweeper ROS Lupu Dinescu, Turkish mine hunter M-270 TCG Akçay and  H-88 HMS Enterprise the flagship of the task force.

French Frigate In Batumi

French La Fayette class frigate F-714 FS Guépratte transiting toward the Black Sea.

According to Georgian website agenda.ge, French frigate FS Guépratte will make a port visit in Batumi Georgia between 22nd and 25th November.

The ship was met with a welcoming ceremony at the Batumi port. Following the ceremony, French Ambassador to Georgia Pascal Meunier and Commander Jacques Mallard have met local authorities and officials of the Georgian coastguard department.

During the visit of the frigate French and Georgian sailors will conduct joint diving, search and rescue, firefighting exercises on 23rd and 24th November.

The French frigate will leave Batumi on November 25.

The Sinking Of Ex-USS Duncan

A Mk-24 Mod. 2 Tigerfish hits ex-USS Duncan. Photo: Turkish Naval Forces.

Ex-US Navy frigate Duncan has found her watery grave after all.

She was bought from US Navy as a spare part source for the 8 existing Gabya class frigates in service, a procedure also known as cannibalization.

The hull of Duncan was observed being towed through Istanbul towards the Black Sea on 22nd March 2017.

At that time, it was speculated that she would be sunk as a target during the coming naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı as the markings on the hull left nothing to the imagination. She somehow survived the exercise that was held between 29th March and 9th April.

According to Turkish Navy, ex-USS Duncan was sunk in the Black Sea on 4th October 2017, by a Mk-24 Mod. 2 Tigerfish torpedo, fired from TCG Sakarya, a Preveze class submarine.

The Nature Of The Beast

This is a photo of TCG Yıldıray, during a transit through Istanbul. TCG Batıray is identical.

Russian website inforeactor published a post about the Sea Breeze 2017 naval exercise, held in Ukraine, between 10. and 23. July 2017.

According to the post Turkish submarine TCG Batıray was able succesful ambushing Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny and US Navy cruiser USS Hué City.

So, an incidental situation developed during the training search for a submarine in the coastal waters of Odessa. According to the plan of the exercises, the Turkish diesel-electric submarine S349 Batiray lay in ambush, waiting for the passage of a large warship. She was searched by US cruiser CG66 Hue City and the flagship of the Ukrainian fleet, the “Hetman Sagaidachny” frigate. However, already at sea it became clear that both ships were not capable of detecting submarines.

On an American vessel, the towed hydroacoustic station was absent, since it was sent for repair. And in general, Americans positioned themselves as observers and advisers. On the Ukrainian ship, the situation was no better – after the “overhaul”, the GAS simply disappeared, and there were no others in the warehouses. Almost 7 hours the flotilla was looking for a Turkish submarine, until it was decided to lift the aircraft into the air. But even here the Americans did not use their equipment, leaving the search for the conscience of the Mi-14PL. On board the Ukrainian helicopter still preserved several sonar buoys, but they were without power supplies. As a result, the search was carried out purely theoretically. “Intruder” was discovered only after ascending to periscope depth….

 

TCG Batıray is an old submarine in service since 1978. She represents the first generation of Type 209 boats in service. Never the less, TCG Batıray being a conventional submarine and a knowing the area well has a distinct advantage against Hetman Sahaidachny and USS Hué City. The former is a Krivak III class frigate originally constructed for Soviet Border Guard forces. She is old and desperately needs replacement, something Ukraine currently can’t afford. USS Hué City is a Ticonderoga class cruiser, primary an air / ballistic missile defence ship with better underwater sensors than Ukrainian frigate.

This year Sea Breeze exercise did not  had a predetermined scenario. This year the exercise was held in a “free play” mode. Thus Turkish submarine took the necessary actions to hide itself and hunt its targets.

The Russian is a blatant propaganda site. They published this post not to praise Turkish Navy but to ridicule the Ukrainian Navy and it’s largest supporter US Navy. But to be honest what else could be the outcome of the described encounter?  That is the nature of the submarine warfare.

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