Pakistan To Assume The Command of CTF-151

Today, on 13th December 2012, Turkish Navy will formally hand over the command of the Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151) which is one of three task forces operated by Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

Turkey took the command of the CTF-151 in September from South Korea and the task force will be commanded by Pakistan between December and March.

F-492 TCG Gemlik is the retiring flagship of the task force.

The Last Voyage Of TCG Muavenet

The Knox class ex-Muavenet on her way to the scrapyard in Aliağa. She is towed by A-587 TCG Gazal. Photo: Turgay Köken, used with permission.

The bulk of the FF-1093 ex-USS Capodanno, F-250 ex-TCG Muavenet is on her way to the scrapyard in Aliağa, İzmir. This is her final voyage.

The Knox class frigates served a short service in Turkish Navy compared to older Gearing class destroyers and newer Perry class frigates. F-250 TCG Muavenet was the first ever Knox class ship given by the US Navy to the Turkish Navy. She was given as a compensation to the old DM-357 TCG Muavenet, which was severely damaged by two Sea Sparrow anti aircraft missiles fired accidentally from the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga in 1992.

The hull of ex-TCG Muavenet. Photo: Turgay Köken, used with permission.


The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 6)

The occupation of a Demilitarizing Zone is usually the first step of a armed conflict. But when the Green Line, that divides Cyprus in two was occupied last week it was an act of peace rather than aggression.

Young people from both communities entered the UN controlled Green Line and camping there. If this latest “Occupy” movement can find roots in both communities and financial international backing it could be the start for the change in the Island.

Inspired by the global “Occupy” movement, youths from across the divide in Cyprus have joined forces to set up camp inside the buffer zone that has split the island since 1974, demanding reunification.

After over a week, half a dozen tents are pitched in a few square metres of the occupied “public land” along the Green Line crossing point at Ledra Street in Nicosia, Europe’s last divided capital.

This month, U.N. head Ban Ki-moon reported “encouraging progress” at the last round of reunifiation talks in New York between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, but warned “there is still work to be done.”

In contrast with protesters of the U.S. or Spanish Occupy movements, the Cypriot youths hold no fears of being forcibly evicted from the site, which police forces are not allowed to enter.

The U.N. peacekeeping force in Cyprus said it tolerated the occupation, the first of its kind since the island’s partition, even though it is the target of some hostile graffiti daubed around the site.

Mean while the quest for the hydro carbon riches beneath the Med is continuing. Last week Turkey signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell for energy exploration and production sharing in the Mediterranean and southeastern Anatolia. Keeping the fact that Shell is a Anglo-Dutch company it is not surprising to see UK involvement in an affair about Cyprus.

Turkey has signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell for energy exploration and production sharing in the Mediterranean and southeastern Anatolia.

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız rejected suggestions that the deal was a response in retaliation to Greek Cypriot and Israeli oil exploration off the coast of Cyprus.

“The deal is a result of technical work and has nothing to do with international speculation,” Yıldız said at a ceremony yesterday.

The agreement, which covers seismic research off the Mediterranean province of Antalya as well as onshore drilling work near the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, was signed between the state-run Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) and Shell. Seismic research will be conducted off Antalya until 2014, after which exploratory drilling will begin. Shell and TPAO will share output equally if oil or gas is found, TPAO general manager Mehmet Uysal said.

According to news reports the Russians are really coming to the Eastern Med this time. As my readers may recall when the tensions in East Med started to increase about the oil of Greek side in Sector 12, Russia immediately declared that she was send several nuclear subs to the region. Later when the political situation in Syria worsened this subs were reinforced with a small flotilla of ships from Gulf Of Aden to show Russia’s solidarity with Syrian regime. But surprising both the submarines and the ships have failed to materialize and their presence was never ever proved.

How ever this time the Russians are really sending their sole aircraft carrier to the region to conduct a number of exercises with regional navies.

Russian warships and submarines are deployed worldwide within task groups and singly. It is planned that Russian warships would take part in the FRUKUS 2012 maneuvers, NATO exercises BALTOPS 2012IONIEX 2012, and the international search-and-rescue exercise Bold Monarch 2012, Russian-Norwegian exercise Pomor 2012, international exerciseNorthern Eagle 2012, and the RIMPAC 2012 exercise”, said the interviewee. 

According to him, in 2012 Black Sea Fleet will take part in activation of BLACKSEAFOR task group. Terms and dates of exercises are being currently agreed via diplomatic channels. In addition, Russian warships are supposed to pay visits to over 40 foreign ports in 2012. 

“Navy command plans that Russian warships would continue presence in the Gulf of Aden and near the Horn of Africa on the regular basis in order to maintain maritime security. With this in view, rotation of the ships is scheduled”, added the Navy spokesman. 

He stressed that Russian mariners were planning to start a long-range cruise no later than in Dec 2011. As is expected, Northern Fleet carrier group headed by aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov will be deployed in ocean zones. 


For the previous updates of Eastern Mediterranean:
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 5)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 4)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 3)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)
The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 1)

Notice To Mariners

There will be light posting or no blogging for the next two weeks.

TCG Giresun Returned Home

The frigate F-491 TCG Giresun, Turkish contribution to NATO’s SNMG-2  has completed its anti-piracy mission with this task force, off Somalia and returned to Turkey, Turkish Naval Forces Command said in a statement on Wednesday.

The frigate docked at the Aksaz Naval Base in Marmaris after a 151-day mission.

During its mission off Somalia, TCG Giresun captured a total of 26 Somali pirates. The crew of the frigate boarded M/T Guanabara and M/V Full City when they were attacked by pirates. She also saved as Yemeni fishing boat, captured by the pirates and used as mother ship.

The Turkish Naval Task Force is the current Turkish anti piracy force in the region. Click here to read about the acts of TCG Giresun in Gulf Of Aden.


Bulgarian Frigate Takes A Break In Crete

BS Gordi, sister of BS Drazki.

Bulgaria’s contribution to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector, the frigate BS Drazki is having a three day break on the Greek island of Crete for refueling and fresh food and water supplies.

The captain of the Drazki frigate, Pancho Panchev, reported that the vessel has been patrolling in the Mediterranean as instructed by the NATO command but has not been given the task yet to inspect cargo ships or fishing boats.

Captain Panchev further reported to the Bulgarian Defense Minister that the crew are in good condition, and the frigate has no technical issues. Panchev stressed that the Bulgarian Navy crew has found that its training to be adequate for the international mission in the Mediterranean.

The range of activity of the Bulgarian Navy is traditionally confined to the Black Sea; the only time it operated outside the Black Sea was in 2009 when a Bulgarian crew brought from Belgium via the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean three vessels that Bulgaria bought second-hand, according to Bulgarian news agency Novinite.

The Bulgarian government has approved sending a frigate for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to take part in the NATO operation, but the ship will be rotated with the rest of her class BS Gordi and BS Verni so that each ship will spend  one month in Mediterranean.

This is the first long ranged, out of area operation for Bulgarian Navy.

H/T: Dave Shirlaw 

>A Mine Was Found In Güllük

>A fishing boat found a mine in its nets when it was hunting in Güllük Bay, Muğla.

The rusted mine was brought to the harbor by the boat and was carefully lifted to the shore.  

In such cases the local authorities call in the naval special forces EOD teams in order to destroy the mine.

In 2010 alone in three different occasions a mine was found in Didim, Karasu and Artvin.

The photo is from Posta daily.

>Look What The Net Dragged In

>Last week a fishing boat operating of the coast of Hopa, Artvin found this in its net.

The 150 kilo, British made mine was tangled in the net as the fishermen were collecting the net. They have placed the mine on the deck of their boat and returned to the harbor.

The local security forces summoned an underwater EOD team  from Istanbul to inspected the mine. Later it was taken to military shooting range where it was destroyed by demolition charges.

Every year a couple of sea mines are found and destroyed in Turkey. This year alone in two different occasions a mine was found in Didim, and Karasu.

Click here for more photos.

>International Staff Of CTF-151


RADM Ertuğrul, the previous commander of CTF-151
and his flag staff

This is from the US 5th Fleet CMF web site and show the international nature of the anti piracy forces very well.

For the past three months the Turkish Navy was at the helm of Combined Task Force 151 (CTF-151), the multi-national counter-piracy mission of Combined Maritime Forces (CMF).

A small but dedicated team of international naval personnel was embarked aboard the flagship TCG Gaziantep to join task force commander Rear Admiral Sinan Ertugrul and his command staff, the majority of whom were drawn from the Turkish Navy, with the more senior officers having attended the prestigious naval college in Istanbul.

“The flag staff are essentially a floating headquarters,” said Captain Rafet Oktar, the CTF-151 Chief of Staff charged with bringing together the various command and control functions. “We coordinate the various elements of the task force such as ships and aircraft, we plan current and future operations and we provide specialist advice to the Commander.”

RADM Ertugrul said “I was proud to lead an international staff, at the head of an international task force, patrolling international waters. CTF-151 is effective as a force for good in the region precisely because of our mutual understanding, cooperation and shared commitment to tackling the serious problem of piracy.

“My international staff added to the diversity of my command team through the backgrounds, experience and abilities they each brought with them. In turn, it was also an opportunity them to hone their skills further through cooperation with my Turkish staff.”

Click here for the whole text.

Obviously Turkish Navy is benefiting from taking part in anti piracy operations in many ways:

  • First and foremost Turkish Navy is offering protection and comfort to the Turkish ships and crews passing through the regions.
  • Turkish Navy is gaining know-how on commanding multinational staffed task forces that operate away from the home waters in.
  • Turkish Navy is fulfilling its share in international naval operations thus showing other nations that it is a serious partner in such cases and developing bilateral cooperation.

>Pakistan Assumes Command Of CTF-151


Photo from CMF

Today, with a ceremony on board of Royal Navy warship HMS Cornwall in UAE, Pakistan Navy Cdre. Abdul Aleem assumed the command of CTF-151, from Turkish Navy Rear Adm. Sinan Ertugrul.

This is the first time that Pakistan will lead CTF-151. Pakistan regularly contributes warships to CTF-150 and assumed the command of that task force several times.

“Given the importance of this region to international trade and the world economy, it could be argued that the problem of piracy has the potential to affect every individual on the planet,” said Rear Adm. Ertugrul, reflecting on his three months in command. Consequently, during my period of command it has been clear to me that international cooperation must underpin everything we do.

Ertuğrul stressed the constant awareness joint Naval forces must have to continue to be successful in their counterpiracy mission.

“Those who seek to commit piracy at sea have shown themselves to be resourceful and flexible, modifying their behavior as we frustrate their tactics,” he said. “Naval forces must therefore remain astute and adaptable. However, the pirates should know this — we are here to stay as long as is necessary.”

Currently, Australia, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the U.K. and U.S.
have warships in CFT-151.

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