Mavi Balina 2018 Naval Exercise Starts Tomorrow

Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand seen here passing through Istanbul on 25th September 2018. She is going to take part in Mavi Balina Exercise.

Mavi Balina (Blue Whale) 2018 invitation naval exercise will be held between 28th September and 7th October in the eastern Mediterranean.  Turkish Navy will host ships, airplanes, helicopters, boarding teams and observers from, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America. Furthermore Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) will take part in the exercise too.

Mavi Balina is a biannual anti-submarine warfare exercise. Participating units will have the opportunity to increase their readiness for actual operations and to increase their ability to perform joint operations.

Turkish Navy will participate with 4 frigates, 5 submarines, 2 corvettes, 1 replenishment ship, 1 patrol boat 3 maritime patrol planes, and 6 helicopters.  Airplanes from Turkish Airforce will also take part.

NATO Maritime Group Two will deploy the flagship The Dutch frigate HNLMS De Ruyter, the Spanish frigate ESPS Cristóbal Colón, the Greek frigate HS Elli and one yet undisclosed Turkish frigate.

Pakistan will join with the frigate PNS Saif and one maritime patrol plane. Romania will deploy the frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand and one helicopter. One maritime patrol plane from US Navy will take part in the exercise too.

Algeria, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia NATO, and the United States will send 19 observers

18 visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team members and 7 VBSS trainers from Azerbaijan are going to take part in Mavi Balina exercise. Their training will be evaluated by 3 men strong VBSS audit and evaluation team from NATO MARCOM.

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A Large Piece Of Grey, Steel Lump

TCG Bayraktar during her acceptance test in 2017. She seems to have become the de facto training ship of Turkish Navy.

On 3rd September the second year cadets of Turkish Naval Academy boarded TCG Bayraktar for a 20 day training cruise in the Black Sea.

318 Turkish students and 7 guest students from South Korea, Albania, Senegal, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Azerbaijan will sail through the Black Sea and visit Varna Bulgaria, Poti Georgia, Trabzon Turkey.

TCG Bayraktar seems to be the favorite training platform of the Turkish Navy replacing the old Rhein class ships TCG Cezayirli Hasan Paşa and TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa. These two ships, initially built as tender for Germany Navy were transferred to Turkish Navy in 1980’ies. In Turkish service, they are mainly used as used for training cruises of Turkish Naval Petty Officer Vocational School and Turkish Naval Academy. Besides training cruises, both ships are used in flagships duties.

But for the last two years, TCG Bayraktar was deployed for the training cruises. While I can understand why TCG Bayraktar is now the chosen platform for the training cruises. She is landing ship with a capacity to carry 350 persons. She has an 1100 square meter closed parking area and a 690 square meter large open deck. So there is enough place for the cadets to live and to train.

TCG Bayraktar has modern command and control facilities, advanced damage control systems and weapons. So she is an effective platform to teach the cadets and show them how to live and fight on ships.

TCG Bayraktar is a convenient platform for training unfortunately not the most representative one nor were the Rhein class ships. Turkish Navy needs a dedicated training ship. And I would like it to be a sailing ship.

Almost one decade ago, in December 2008, the Defence Industry Executive Committee approved the commencement of training ship project. On 29 January 2009, Undersecretariat for Defense Industries issued a request for information (RfI) document about schooner type ships. But nothing since then happened. For some years the project was listed in the official presentations of UDI under the future acquisition projects. Now they even don’t do that. I have no doubt that nobody in Undersecretariat for Defence Industries or in Turkish Navy is talking about this project anymore.

I personally STILL look forward to seeing these schooners in service. I believe that only sailing can teach a young and aspiring sea cadet about the forces that will shape his/her life in the coming twenty-thirty years.

There is no better way than sailing and challenging the elements, in order to develop good ship handling skills and a feeling for the sea. Today’s naval warfighting has become something like an arcade game. All command, control, and communication are done in the bowels of the ship. Yet a commander of any warship must be a sailor first and bring the ship back to the port safely.

I can not think of a person who would not be impressed by seeing a tall ship sailing into their port. TCG Bayraktar is a large piece of grey steel lump, impressive but unimaginative. In terms of naval soft power, these schooners will a force multiplier for the Turkish Navy when and if they enter into the service.

Turkey Helps Pakistan To Recover The Wreck Of The Lost Helicopter

The photo of the search and rescue team before their departure to Pakistan. Photo: Turkish Navy

One Sea King helicopter of Pakistani Navy crashed to the Arabian Sea on 31st August 2018. According to Pakistani Navy, the helicopter was conducting routine training operations when lost. 3 sailors were rescued and one dead were recovered. Pakistan asked Turkey to help to locate the wreck and recover the bodies of the 3 missing aircrews.

A 25 strong search and rescue team from the Turkish Navy was dispatched with an A-400M cargo plane of Turkish Airforce. Among the equipment, send are autonomous underwater vehicles.

TCG Gediz Takes Part In Dynamic Mongoose 2018

TCG Gediz as part of SNMG-1 takes part in the Dynamic Mongoose ASW exercise. During the exercise, she has crossed the Arctic Circle. Main photo: FRA N WO Christian Valverde, insert Turkish General Staff.

Gabya class frigate TCG Gediz is hunting for submarines at the top of the world. As Turkish contribution to the Standing NATO Maritime Group One TCG Gediz takes part in anti submarine warfare exercise Dynamic Mongoose 2018.

According to the Turkish General Staff, the frigate has crossed the Arctic Circle on 29th June.

Submarines from Norway under operational control of NATO Submarine Command (COMSUBNATO), will join 7 surface ships from Denmark, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Turkey under the command of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) Commodore Søren Thinggaard LARSEN. To support the simulated multi-threat environment, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA’s) from Germany, Norway, and the United States will operate from Andoya Air Base under the operational command of NATO Maritime Air Command (COMMARAIR).

In March 2018 Turkish warship TCG Gaziantep took part in the southern ASW exercise Dynamic Manta held in Italy.

Below is the list of the participating units to Dynamic Mongoose 2018:

Number Name Country Type
F-363 HDMS Niels Juel Denmark Frigate
F-828 HNLMS Van Speijk Netherlands Frigate
F-831 HNLMS Van Amstel Netherlands Frigate
273 ORP General Tadeusz Kosciuszko Poland Frigate
Z-1 ORP Baltik Poland Tanker
F-101 ESPS Álvaro de Bazán Spain Frigate
F-495 TCG Gediz Turkey Frigate
Norway Submarine
Norway Submarine
P-3C Orion Norway Patrol plane
P-8A Posedion VP-10 USA Patrol plane
P-3C Orion Germany Patrol plane

Turkish Navy Has Started To Hunt Mines With Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles


Turkish Navy has entered the age of autonomous unmanned vehicles (AUV). This transition happened without much fanfare or publicity.

The above photo was published on Turkish General Staff website and shows the deck of the Aydın class minehunter TCG Anamur during the ITALIAN MINEX-18 held in Italy between 21 and 29 May.

The orange and yellow gadgets on the back of the deck are practice mines used during the exercise. The large yellow device partially visible on the left is a French-made PAP-104 underwater unmanned vehicle used for exploration, identification and sometimes for the destruction of mines. That system is remotely controlled and is not fully autonomous. This is the standard ROV of all Turkish minehunters.

The yellow torpedo-like object, in the middle, is of much interest. It is a Gavia autonomous underwater vehicle made by Teledyne Gavia.

According to the information provided by the company, GAVIA (AUV) is a self-contained, low logistics, modular survey platform capable of delivering high-quality data while operating from vessels of opportunity or from the shore.

The system is field proven for applications that include MCM, SAR, and ASW training. The field-changeable and easily transportable modules make it well suited for rapid response to emerging requirements.

At least two 1000m rated systems were delivered in 2016. One is named Uluç Bora and the other Barbaros Dora. In one press release, the company states the end user as Turkish Air Force and the AUV’s will provide TAF with highly effective deep water, rapid response capability. I sincerely believe that the there is a mistake. Usually, all underwater operations are the responsibility of Turkish Navy. And currently, these AUV’s are operated by the Turkish Navy Mine Countermeasures (MCM) command in Erdek.

The most striking specialty of this UAV is its modularity. The vehicle can be configured even on the field by adding modules or taking them out according to the mission requirements. The length and the weight of the AUV’s vary according to the modules it has.

Though it is not confirmed I believe each Turkish GAVIA has in addition to the nose, battery and propulsion modules one DVL-aided INS module, one side scan/bathymetry sonar module, one multibeam profiling module.

Among other naval operators of GAVIA AUV are Poland and Russia.

104 Years Between Two Blue

On 24 June 1914, the founding of Naval Aviation School was approved by Navy Ministry. Its location was just alongside to the Aviation School in Yeşilköy. There was an additional hangar for seaplanes at the coast a few kilometers south. Today Yeşiköy Atatürk International Airport occupies the land that used to be the school and its runway and Airforce Academy is built on the grounds that used to house the hangar for the seaplanes.

To commemorate the 104. anniversary of Turkish Naval Aviation, I share photos I took today 4 years ago.

TCB44 kopya

TCB44, an AB-212 ASW helicopter. These old birds are getting retired as they finish the service lives.

TCB52 kopya

TCB52, an S-70B Seahawk helicopter. The workhorse of Turkish Naval Aviation.

TCB602 kopya

TCB-602, Socata training plane. These planes kept navy pilots flying during the period when Turkish Navy did not operate any dedicated maritime patrol/ASW plane

TCB652_1 kopya

TCB-652, a P-235 maritime patrol / ASW plane. It took ages to complete the maritime mission systems and sensor and even longer to integrate them to the existing CN-235 chassis. Now they are working around the clock.

TCB652 kopya

TCB-652

TCB701_1 kopya

TCB-701, P-72 utility airplane for Turkish Navy. In 2008 Turkey ordered 10 ATR 72-500 ASW from Italy. 6 years later the order was amended to 2 ATR-72 600 TMUA and 6 ATR-72 600 TMPA planes. 10 years later we are still waiting patiently for ASW the planes. All we got in the meantime are two unarmed ATR-72-600 planes for utility missions.

TCB52_1 kopya

TCB-52, SH-70 Seahawk.

TCB701 kopya

TCB-701

CDY_7349 kopya

3 AB-212 helicopters in formation flight.

CDY_7345 kopya

3 SH-70 Seahawk helicopters in formation flight.

DSC_2654 kopya

3 TB-20 planes in formation flight.

DSC_2638 kopya

3 P-235 ASW planes in formation flight.

DSC_2619 kopya

A member of Turkish naval special forces about to finish his parachute jump from a helicopter.

DSC_2618 kopya

A member of Turkish naval special forces about to finish his parachute jump from a helicopter.

DSC_2558 kopya

A four-man team of Turkish naval special forces fast-roping from a hovering SH-70 Seahawk.

CDY_7210 kopya

Sonobuoy launchers on a P-235 ASW plane.

CDY_7050 kopya

A Penguin anti-ship missile training round.

CDY_7046 kopya

Hellfire missile training rounds.

CDY_7047 kopya

A Mk-54 torpedo training round.

DSC_1895 kopya

A P-235 ASW plane and her crew.

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:

Turkish Navy Conducted Live Test With Korkut Air Defence System

TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa returns from live fire test of Korkut D.

The unmanned gun turret and the 3D radar mount occupy the place, where once the 100mm gun turret was.

Turkish Navy and Aselsan have conducted live firing tests of the Korkut D gun system on board of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa. The trials are believed to be performed during the first week of May.
Korkut is a Self Propelled Air Defense Gun System developed by Aselsan.

The initial customer for this system is the Turkish Land Forces. A typical system has one command vehicle and 3 gun vehicles. The command vehicles carry a 3D target acquisition and tracking radar, IFF system, and necessary to command and control systems. The gun vehicles carry an unmanned turret with 2 x 35mm guns, a fire control radar and electro/optical sensors.

The navalized system has a stabilized, unmanned gun turret and a mount for 3D target acquisition and tracking radar.

The Korkut D system made headlines in December 2016 when a Turkish boat carrying it for initial tests, run ashore on the Greek islands Kos island due to bad weather.

This time the test platform was provided by Turkish Navy. TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa is a very versatile ship. She was built for Germany Navy by Schlichting-Werft in Travemünde as a tender for fast attack boats. In Turkish service, she is used as a flagship of small ship formations, training ship for cadets and in a war as an auxiliary minelayer.

Prior to the tests, the original 100mm gun mount in X position on her board was removed, freeing space for the Korkut D gun turret and radar mount.

The position of the turret on board of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa provides extra elevation angle to engage low flying targets and possibly to engage close small surface targets. The gun turret seems to be not penetrating the deck. This suggests that this is not a permanent installation and the original 100mm gun may return to claim its place on the ship.

TCG Sancaktar Handed Over To Turkish Navy

On 7th April 2018, TCG Sancaktar was handed over to Turkish Navy. She is the second ship of Bayraktar class landing ships, TCG Bayraktar being the first off the class.

The contract for the construction of new LST’s was signed in 2011. The value of the contract was 370 million Euros. The first ship was delivered in February 2017.

The ships can carry 350 persons, 20 MBT and between 24 – 60 vehicles. The closed parking area is 1100 square meters and the open deck parking area is 690 square meters.

It was rumored that TCG Sancaktar might be sold to another country but this sale apparently did not materialize.

Both ships have a good command and control facilities and management software. All lessons learned from operating and commanding amphibious forces from these ships will be used in the development of the software and systems to be used on TCG Anadolu.

I wish TCG Sancaktar fair winds and following seas

 

Turkish Navy Started To Operate UAVs

A TAI built ANKA-B unmanned aerial vehicle used by Turkish Navy. Photo: Undersecretariat for Defence Industries.

In April, Turkish Navy started to use a UAV for reconnaissance and surveillance missions. Turkish procurement agency Undersecretariat for Defence Industries released the first photos of the UAV. The craft is an ANKA, advanced medium altitude long endurance (MALE) class built by Turkish Aerospace Industries. According to the company the UAS, performs day and night, all-weather reconnaissance, target detection/identification and intelligence missions with its EO/IR and SAR payloads, featuring autonomous flight capability including automatic take-off and Landing.

The released photos show the UAV,  an ANKA-B equipped only with a CATS (Common Aperture Targeting System) FLIR. It believed that the UAV is leased until units with advanced sensors as described above, will enter into service. The next version on ANKA-S will be controlled via satellite. This feature enables the UAV to performs further away from its base.

The characteristics of the

    • Wing Span : 17.3m
    • Length : 8m
    • Powerplant : Heavy fuel engine (155 hp)
  • Payload Capacity : 200kg (full endurance)
  • Power 9kW

Turkish Navy wanted to use UAV over the seas for many years. The ultimate aim is to combine the data from UAVs with data coming from other airborne, land and sea-based sensors to create a full maritime picture increase maritime domain awareness. With the inauguration of the first ANKA-B UAV, the vision of creating a fuller maritime picture has come one step closer.

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