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

Romania Is Set To Modernize Its Frigates

Romanian frigate F-221 Regele Ferdinand on her way to home. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

Romanian frigate F-221 Regele Ferdinand on her way to home. A 2012 photo by Kerim Bozkurt.

Romania has officially started the modernization process of her 2 Type-22 frigates on 16 March 2016.

Like Bulgaria, Romania too needed modern, up to date and NATO compatible warships when both countries joined NATO. While Bulgaria opted to buy second hand frigates and mine hunter from Belgium, Romania bought two Type-22 frigates from Great Britain in 2003.

The frigates ROS Regina Maria (ex London) and ROS Regele Ferdinand (ex Coventry) were overhauled in UK before their delivery to Romania. They were transferred armed with only guns and torpedoes The frigates lack long-range offensive weapons and adequate air defence systems. The new contract will allow this deficiencies to be fixed. The vaule of the contract is estimared by Romanian MoD at 839 million Lei, without VAT  aproximatel Euro 190 million.

According to the published information the modernization will be done in Romania. The frigates will be fitted with anti ship missiles, anti air missiles and guns or short range missiles for self protection. And all of these new weapons and sensors will be integrated to the combat information system.

According to a press MapN Wednesday, the procedure for the award of the contract is “restricted procedure”, organized under the Emergency Ordinance no. 114/2011 regarding the award of certain public contracts in the fields of defense and security.

Through this contract, the frigates “King Ferdinand” and “Queen Mary” will be equipped with anti-aircraft missile, rocket antinavă and gun systems and / or missile for missile defense antinavă, and sensors with superior performance (radar, electronooptici and towed sonar). They will be integrated into a computerized system of Fight Management, Modern, which will enable it to perform the full range of specific missions frigates.

Modernization of vessels will be made compulsorily in Romania, as a requirement of security of supply, according to art. 1 para. (1) and art. 50 of GEO. 114/2011, in conjunction with art. 346 par. (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union it is approved by CSAT memorandum entitled: multiannual program “multipurpose frigate – the second stage of modernization”.

Romanian Coast Guard Vessel Stefan Cel Mare

The Romanian Coast Guard vessel MAI 1105 Stefan Cel Mare arrived in the morning of 5th August for a port visit in Istanbul. This is not the first time, that the Damen OPV 900 class vessel is in Istanbul.

She was funded by the European Union in order to strengthen the Border Police force of Romania. She has a length of 66 meters and is capable of making 21 knots.

>Romanian Border Guard Vessel Passed Through Bosphorus


This Morning the Romanian border Guard vessel MAI-1105 Stefan Cel Mare passed through Bosphorus.

She is heading to Create, Greece.

The Damen Offshore Patrol Vessel 950 class vessel was delivered to Romania in September 2010. She was funded by the European Union in order to strengthen the Border Police force of Romania.

In a similar procurement project the Turkish Istanbul shipyard delivered 5 river partrol boats of SNR-17 class, constructed for Romanian Border Police.

I must confess that I am impressed by the very modern design of Stefan Cel Mare.   She was constructed and the Damen shipyard in Romania. Click here for detailed information.

>Ukraine Sends A Warship To Libya While Romania And Bulgaria Prepares One


U-402 Konstantin Olshansky. NATO photo.

Exactly at midnight of 23th March 2011, the Ukrainian Ropucha 1 class landing ship U-402 Konstantin Olshansky Sevastopol to conduct Non-Combatant Evacuation of Ukranian citizens trapped in Libya.

She has passed through Bosphorus on 24 March 2011 early in the morning and left Turkish territorial waters late at night.

According to Ukrainian Goverment Portal the ship can accommodated 500 to 600 evacuees on board.

Large landing ship Konstantin Olshansky has all the necessary stores, including fuel and lubricants, and foodstuffs. To ensure the safety and security of citizens of Ukraine except the crew aboard the ship there is the unit of Marines with standard weapon, doctors from the Military Medical Clinical Centre of Crimean region and psychologists, interpreters with knowledge of Arabic.

It was not stated on the portal how long the NEO will last.

Ukraine is not the only Black Sea country that sends a warship to Libya. Both Bulgaria and Romania have announced that they each will send a frigate to participate NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

Romania decided to send the frigate F-221 Regele Ferdinand. The Type 22 class frigate was purchased from UK in 2004. The Romanian government decided to increase the defence budget by 4,5 million Euros from reserve funds in order to pay the participation of the frigate.

Bulgaria, too will send a frigate to Libya. Bulgarian Defense Minister Anyu Angelov has issued orders to prepare the F-41 Drazki  of the Bulgarian Navy for participation in the NATO naval operation of Libya’s coast.

Both Regele Ferdinand and Drazki are currently in Black Sea and did not passed though Bosphorus yet.

>Turkish Boats For Romanian Border Police Delivered


The five river partrol boats of SNR-17 class, constructed for Romanian Border Police were delivered last week.

Istanbul Shipyard (not to be mixed with Istanbul Naval Shipyard) was seleced by Romania to supply the boats back in January 2010. The total value of the project is estimated to be around 7,5 million euros.

The boats are equipped among standard navigation and mission devices with a FLIR system for night navigation, a portable Geiger counter, and explosives sensor.

Two of the boats will be stationed on Ukrainian, one on Moldavian, one on Hungarian and one on Serbian border.

Full length: 17,26 meters
Beam: 4,55 meters
Draft: 1,00 meter
Maximum speed: 25 knots

Here is a video about the boat from TRT, and here is one form the builder.

Although the scope of this project is not very big, these boats are the first Turkish exports to an European law enforcement agency. That is why this project is an important mile stone in Turkish naval shipbuild industry.

>New Ships For The Russian Black Sea Fleet


The Russian naval website reports that Russian Black Sea Fleet will receive six Admiral Gorshkov class (Project 22350) frigates, six Lada (Project 677) diesel submarines, two Ivan Gren class (Project 11711) large landing ships, four ships of other projects, modernized bombers Su-24M instead of obsolete versions, and ASW aircrafts, Il-38 instead of amphibious aircrafts Be-12 till 2020.

This reinforcement of Black Sea Fleet will be conducted under State Arms Program 2011-2020.

This statement, the latest in a series of similar announcements of semi dubious seriousness was made shortly after, Russian and Ukrainian defense ministers signed a document providing that Russia will inform Ukraine about manpower, arms, and strength of Black Sea Fleet.  Russia’s Defence Minister Anatoly Serdiukov pointed out that the significant agreement signed is the first step to renewal of Black Sea Fleet.

I have expressed my personal opinion of the news about the rejuvenation of the BSF previously herehere,  and here. The continuations of these statements show me a few things:

  • Two of the former allies of Russia in the Black Sea basin Romania and Bulgaria rejuvenated their fleets with second hand warships from NATO. By buying cheap ships from NATO countries these two states improved their navies’ operational capabilities and gained access to NATO standards and operational procedures. There are rumors that Ukraine may follow their lead and buy second hand ships from German Navy. The road of Ukraine to join to NATO is a long a winding one. But this is not a hindrance for this country to buy NATO equipment. Ukraine regularly cooperates with NATO and send warship to NATO’s Operation Active Endeavor. Recently an EU military delegation visited Ukrainian Navy to discuss Ukraine’s participations to EU led Operation Atalanta among other things.
  • Romanian and Bulgarian navies and if Ukraine buys warships from Germany then Ukrainian navy will have warships that are younger and have better C3I suites, modern sensors and capable weapons compared to most of the BSF.
  • The current state of the ships in the BSF is not bright and most of them been in service for over 35 years and the Russians are very well aware that current status quo is not sustainable and replacements are vital. As explained above if Russia does not replaces its old ships she will witness a further weakening of her naval authority in the region. This would a blow to Russian national pride and to the political ambitions of the Kremlin.
  • The flow of reports about the new ships joining BSF in the future is an indication of the realization the need for a replacement and an indication of intentions getting rid of old ships. But the number and the classes of the new ships is almost different in every official statement. A few months ago the BSF was to get 15 new frigates and submarines. But the in the latest announcement it is 6 frigates and 6 submarines. This shows that although the Russians have an intention to build new ships their long and mid term acquisitions programme is not clearly prepared. The lack of a concrete programme will leave the whole new ship building projects open to economical and political threats.

>Varna Visit Of BlackSeaFor Is Over

According to the Blackseafor commander, the On-Call Naval Force of Black Sea navies BlackSeaFor has left the Bulgarian port of Varna to conduct its next stage of exercises. The April 2010 activation of BlackSeafor is scheduled to end on 27th April and is commanded by Bulgarian Navy.

As reported earlier, the first stage of the exercises was conducted in the south-western region of the Black Sea which involved search and rescue operations, and replenishment and refuelling at sea as well as monitoring of civilian aircraft.

During the next stages, the Blackseafor warships will exercise tactical manoeuvres, conduct combat operations against surface ships, practise air defence and communications, assistance to ships in distress and ship inspection.

Click here for photos of the Ereğli port visit.

>Turkish Boats For Romanian Border Police

>Istanbul Shipyard (not to be mixed up with Istanbul Naval Shipyard) , was chosen to build 5 patrol boats for Romanian Border Police. This will be a first naval vessel export for this shipyard all boats will be delivered within this year.

The 16.5 meter boats, which will be made up of aluminum, have the capacity to reach 50/kım hour speed. The boats will be used on Danube River and will be finance by EU funds.

The SNR 17 class boats have an outstanding maneuverability. They can fulfill various task such as border patrol, observation, supervision, control, intervention. There is no clear information about the sensors and weapons to be installed on these boats.

>Commanders of Black Sea Navies have met in Varna

> The commanders of the Black Sea navies have gathered in Varna Bulgaria for the “Black Sea Naval Forces Commander Committee Meeting” on 22 May 2009.

On a ceremony held on board of the Turkish frigate F-495 TCG Gediz, Admiral Ataç presented the commanders with the BlackSeaFor Medal in appreciation of their countries collaboration into BlackSeaFor.

Among the participants were Admiral Minko Kavaciev from Bulgaria, Capitan 1st Class, Besik Shengelia from Georgia, Admiral Dorin Danila from Romania, and Admiral Aleksandar Kletskov on behalf of Admiral Vladimir Visotski from Russia and Admiral Igor Tenyug from Ukraine.

I think, to have the naval commander of Georgia and the commander of Russian Black Sea Fleet at the same time at the same ship for the same ceremony, is a significant diplomatic success. In less than a year ago these countries were in a shooting war and their relation are not good at the present either.

If the naval commanders of all Black Sea navies can come together despite their nations problems with each other and discuss how to fight against smuggling of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, drug and human trafficking it means that intentions are true and honest. This gathering is also a testimony of the soft-power skills of Turkish Navy.
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