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Ukranian Naval Exercise Sea Breeze 17 Has Started

US Navy cruiser USS Hue City and Turkish frigate F-241 TCG Turgutreis, off the coast of Ukraine. Photo: US Navy

Sea Breeze 2017 naval exercise has started in Odessa, Ukraine. This is the 17th edition of exercise which takes place in the Black Sea between 10. and 23. July 2017.

This year over 3,000 military personnel, 31 ship and 29 aircraft from the following nations is taking part: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Unlike previous events this year’s exercise will have no previously written scenario.

The specifics of the Ukrainian-U.S. exercise Sea Breeze 2017 are an altered structure of the headquarters, which this year will make up the exercise control headquarters and a separate naval command headquarters, which is developed in compliance with NATO standards. The method used in holding the exercise will be different from that of the previous exercises as well: the international maneuvers will be held in a “free play” mode,” the press center quoted the head of the working group on planning the exercise nominated by the Ukrainian Navy, Deputy Navy Commander on Training Captain Oleksiy Neizhpapa, as having said.

Neizhpapa added that during the Sea Breeze-2017, the multinational naval command headquarters will exercise planning and control of forces under given conditions, as well as decision-making and supervising with regard to ship tactical groups and coastal and air force components. This will allow for testing the advanced naval command headquarters’ capability of managing forces and operations to meet NATO standards, he said.

Every year, we complicate the exercise program. It’s like in sport. After so many years of cooperation and practice, we are ready for a “free game”. We will work out various scenarios , – said the head of the Sea Breeze-2017 from the American side, Navy Captain Tate Westbrook, the commander of U.S. 6th Fleet’s Task Force 65 and of the U.S. forces on scene.

Under the scenario, as explained by Captain Westbrook, the fleet of surfaces ships will conduct anti submarine warfare, try to find and neutralise the enemy submarine, the role played by the Turkish submarine TCG Batıray.

Well good luck to the ships in their effort against TCG Batıray.  This exercise shows  Turkey as the only NATO nation that can deploy submarines to the Black Sea. Romania has one Kilo class submarine on its naval register but no one has seen that boat deployed and Bulgaria disband its submarine force in 2013.

Here is the list of the participants as far as I could find:

Number Name Type Nationality
S-343 TCG Batıray Submarine Turkey
NL-124 TCG Karamürselbey Landing ship Turkey
F-241 TCG Turgutreis Frigate Turkey
CG-66 USS Hue City Cruiser USA
DDG-64 USS Carney Destroyer USA
265 ROS Contraamiral Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
111 Maresesti Frigate Romania
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachny Frigate Ukraine
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Bulgarian Naval Exercise Breeze 2017 Has Started

Super Vita class fast attack craft, HS Anthypoploiarchos Ritsos passed through Turkish Straits to participate in Breeze 2017 naval exercise.

Naming of military operations and exercises has always been a controversial topic. So it does not help much when Bulgaria names the naval exercise as Breeze when there is Ukrainian – USA joint exercise called Sea Breeze. It is not easy to distinguish between them two. The timing of these exercises makes it even more difficult.

Breeze 2017 is the Bulgarian exercise. The warships participating to this exercise have gathered in Varna.The exercise started on 14 July 2017 and will end on 23 July.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop cooperation and interoperability by performing actual maritime training among the multinational forces in the Black Sea. Besides the host, Turkey, USA, England, Italy, Poland, Romania and Greece are participating After Bulgaria, Turkey has the second largest number of units taking part in the exercise.

Here is the list of the participants as far as I could find:

Number Name Type Nationality
S-343 TCG Preveze Submarine Turkey
P-330 TCG Kılıç Fast attack craft Turkey
P-1214 TCG Karadeniz Ereğli Patrol boat Turkey
F-241 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
D-37 HMS Duncan Destroyer UK
P-71 HS Anthypoploiarchos Ritsos Fast attack craft Greece

Bulgarian Naval Helicopter Crashed

F-41 BS Drazki during her northbound transit in Bosphorus, on 3 June 2011.

On 9. June 2017, a Panther helicopter of Bulgarian Navy collided with the frigate Drazki and crashed into the sea. The two of the 3 strong crew were rescued. The pilot unfortunately lost his life.

Bulgarian Navy purchased 3 AS 565MB Panther helicopters from Airbus in 2011. The Panther has replaced older Soviet era helicopters for naval operations. Since none of the Bulgarian warships have landing platforms or hangars, all the helicopters are land based.

On 9 June the helicopter was conducting a naval training with the frigate Drazki and other warships when the helicopter collided with the mast of the frigate and crashed. The pilot Captain Georgi Atanasov died while the Captain Pavel Simeonov and captain Anatoly Apostolovwere rescued by the sailors from the ship. The survivors are in stable condition.

With this accident Bulgarian Navy lost %30 percent of her aviation assets.

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.

Comments On Live Firings Made During Deniz Yıldızı Exercise

Deniz Yıldızı 2017 naval exercise has ended on 7th April 2017 and participating warships are returning to their home bases.

Live missile firings made this year’s event will one of the best remembered.

During the second phase of the exercise between 31 March and 3 April, in total 6 warships and one submarine launched 8 missiles.

Below is the official video from the live missile firings made during Deniz Yıldızı 2017. Watch the video and then read my comments further below.

What do we see?

  • The submarine TCG Çanakkale performed the first ever submerged UGM-84 Harpoon missile launch in Turkish Navy.
  • Furthermore the corvette TCG Heybeliada fired a RGM-84F Harpoon Blok II missile capable of striking targets on land also a first for Turkish Navy.
  • Frigates TCG Gökçeada, TCG Fatih, TCG Barbaros, corvette TCG Büyükada and fast attack craft TCG İmbat, conducted surface to air missile firings.
  • An unidentified missile -probably RGM-84F Harpoon Block II but nor certainly- hit a specially constructed target area.

What do we not see?

  • The sinking of ex USS Duncan. She was towed to the Black Sea on 26 March to be used as a target. Was she even used?
  • The rumored firing of a Mk-24 Tigerfish torpedo. Turkish Navy had a bad experience with Tigerfish in 2001. Did the history repeated itself?
  • The impact of the second Harpoon missile, if the impacting missile on the video is indeed a Harpoon. If not, we don’t see impacts of both Harpoons.
  • Firings made from land to the sea. The navtex broadcasts of Directorate General of Coastal Safety and the NOTAM broadcasts of Directorate General of Civil Aviation mentioned that missile firings from land toward sea.

Turkish Navy Conducting Simultaneous Port Visits In 5 Countries

TCG Oruçreis arrives in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev.

10 Turkish warships are conducting port visits in 5 different ports, in 5 different countries.

The long needed rest came after the end of the first phase of naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2017. The exercise has started on 27 March and will end on 7 April.

Of course the small size of the Black Sea helps. But Turkey is the only Black Sea nation that can perform such a diplomatic show of force. It is not a small event to do port visits in 5 different nations at the same time.

This is the list of the ships doing port visits. Most of them  will be open for public to visit.

Name Type Port Country
TCG Oruçreis Frigate Varna Bulgaria
TCG Tuzla Patrol Boat Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kalkan Fast Attack Craft Batumi Georgia
TCG Yıldırım Frigate Batumi Georgia
TCG Turgutreis Frigate Constanta Romania
TCG Yıldız Fast Attack Craft Constanta Romania
TCG Büyükada Corvette Novorossiysk Russia
TCG Barbaros Frigate Novorossiysk Russia
TCG Heybeliada Corvette Odessa Ukraine
TCG Gaziantep Frigate Odessa Ukraine

Deniz Yıldızı 2017 Naval Exercise Has Started

The hull of ex USS Duncan will be on the receiving end of at least one UGM-84 Sub Harpoon missile or one Tigerfish torpedo.

The annual naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı has started in Black Sea on Monday. The exercise will end on, 7th April 2016.

The scope of the exercise indicates, Turkish Navy’s intentions showing a strong presence in the Black Sea.

For me, the most noteworthy aspect of this exercise, will be the simultaneous port visits of Turkish naval units in Varna, Constanta, Odessa, Novorossiysk and Batumi. All Black Sea nations, will be visited on the next week-end on 3rd and 4th April 2017. This is an impressive way of showing the flag, an important message.

According to Turkish General Staff website, there will be a Harpoon Block II test firing, from a ship to a land based target. This is going to be a first for Turkish Navy.

Furthermore one live UGM-84 Sub Harpoon missile and one live Mk-24 Tigerfish torpedo will be tested too. Ex USS Duncan that was towed last week, will likely be on the receiving end at least one of them.

The following ships along with submarines were observed making a northbound passage through Bosphorus in the last couple days:

Number Name Type
A-595 TCG Yarbay Kudret Güngör Tanker
A-XXX TCG XXX Tanker
A-XXX TCG XXX Tanker
F-240 TCG Yavuz Frigate
F-241 TCG Turgutreis Frigate
F-242 TCG Fatih Frigate
F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate
F-244 TCG Barbaros Frigate
F-245 TCG Oruçreis Frigate
F-247 TCG Kemalreis Frigate
F-490 TCG Gaziantep Frigate
F-494 TCG Gökçeada Frigate
F-496 TCG Gökova Frigate
F-505 TCG Bafra Corvette
F-511 TCG Heybeliada Corvette
F-512 TCG Büyükada Corvette
M-260 TCG Edincik Mine hunter
M-263 TCG Erdek Mine hunter
NL-125 TCG Osmangazi Landing ship
P-1200 TCG Tuzla Patrol Boat
P-12XX TCG XXX Patrol Boat
P-330 TCG Kılıç Fast Attack Craft
P-331 TCG Kalkan Fast Attack Craft
P-335 TCG İmbat Fast Attack Craft
P-336 TCG Zıpkın Fast Attack Craft
P-341 TCG Martı Fast Attack Craft
P-348 TCG Yıldız Fast Attack Craft
S-349 TCG Batıray Submarine
S-353 TCG Preveze Submarine
S-358 TCG Çanakkale Submarine
S-3XX TCG XXX Submarine

Poseidon 2017 Naval Exercise

NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two passing through Istanbul before taking part in Poseidon 2017.

Mine warfare exercise Poseidon, hosted by Romania is continuing in Black Sea

The exercise has started on 5 March 2016 and will end on 15 March 2017. Exercise Poseidon began in 2015 as a bilateral Romanian-Bulgarian naval exercise. The host for the exercise alternates each year between Romania and Bulgaria. NATO Standing Groups regularly participate in exercises in the Black Sea to support interoperability, practice NATO standard procedures, tactics and techniques with Allied nations bordering the Black Sea.

The main aim of the exercise is to promote mutual understanding, confidence, interoperability and defense cooperation among participating nations.

Furthermore, the exercise intents:

  • To enhance operational capabilities and readiness of all participants;
  • To exercise NATO maritime warfare procedures and tactics in a joint interagency, multinational environment;
  • To exercise NATO maritime procedures for command, control and communications;
  • To exercise NATO Rules of Engagement (NATO ROE – MC 362);
  • To enhance the CIMIC and interagency cooperation in multi-threat environment;
  • To practice standard operational procedures, communications, and support to maritime forces taking part in Crisis Response Operation (CRO)
  • To improve the operational and tactical interoperability between participating MW, ASW ships and EOD team.

Over 1500 troops and following ships are taking part in the exercise:

Number Name Type Country
63 BS Priboy Mine sweeper Bulgaria
M-1061 FGS Rottweil Mine hunter Germany
M-62 HS Europa Mine hunter Greece
511 Kontradmirał X. Czernicki Tender Poland
25 ROS Lieutenant Lupu Dunescu Mine sweeper Romania
30 ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente Mine sweeper Romania
264 ROS Admiral Eustatiu Sebstian Corvette Romania
M-35 ESPS Duero Mine hunter Spain
M-265 TCG Alanya Mine hunter Turkey
M-269 TCG Anamur Mine hunter Turkey

SNMG-2 Ships Arrived In Samsun

NATO SAVAŞ GEMİLERİ SAMSUN’DA NATO'YA AİT İKİ SAVAŞ GEMİSİ SAMSUN LİMANI'NA DEMİR ATTI

HMCS St. John’s in Samsun harbour. Photo: samsunkenthaber.com

Today, Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate HMCS St. John’s constituting, Standing NATO Martime Group 2, Task Unit 2 arrived in Samsun, Turkey.

The ships  will stay in Samsun for 3 days. They have left Varna, Bulgaria on last Monday with the Bulgarian warship Reshitelni and spend the rest of the week cruising the Black Sea.

The ships have sailed to the Black Sea on 31st January and can stay only 21 days in the region. This means that the ships must make their southbound passage through Bosphorus in the next four days.

 

 

Sea Shield 2017 Naval Exercise

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Spanish warship ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon passed through Turkish Straits to take part in the exercise.

Once again Romania is hosting Sea Shield naval exercise. The exercise will take place between 1st and 11th February 2017. The exercise started with the planning and familiarization phase which will end on 5th February.

The participants have already arrived at the Romanian port Constanta for this year’s exercise. Besides, Romania, Bulgaria, Canada, Spain, Turkey and U.S.A. have deployed warships. The only submarine of the exercise is TCG Dolunay. She will play the role of the hunter and the hunted.

According to the press release of the Romanian Naval Forces, 2800 military personnel is taking part in the exercise. Romania will provide besides warships two mobile missile-launchers, a special-operation detachment, two MiG 21 Lancer airplanes and a medical-evacuation helicopter. Turkey has also dispatched one CN-235 ASW patrol plane.

This is the list of the participating naval units:

Number Name Type Country
11 BGS Smeli Frigate Bulgaria
340 HMCS St John’s Frigate Canada
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdnand Frigate Romania
111 ROS Marasesti Frigate Romania
265 ROS Admiral Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
264 ROS Admiral Eustatiu Sebstian Corvette Romania
190 ROS Lastunul Corvette Romania
188 ROS Zborul Corvette Romania
25 ROS Lieutenant Lupu Dunescu Mine sweeper Romania
29 ROS Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu Mine sweeper Romania
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon Frigate Spain
F-242 TCG Fatih Frigate Turkey
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
78 USS Porter Destroyer USA
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