Ships Lost, Damaged Or Seized During The Russian Invasion of Ukraine (Part 1)

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have been trying to keep a list the of damage and losses to the ships.

The list below is the list of the ships that have been damaged, sunk or seized during the first month of the war.

Date Ship Type Country Event and Location Losses
24.02.2022 Yasa Jupiter Civilian merchant ship Marshall Island Damage by an airstrike, off the coast of Odessa No losses
25.02.2022 Millennial Spirit Civilian merchant ship Moldovia Damage from gun fire by Russian warships 12nm off Yuzny port 2 injured
26.02.2022 Namura Queen Civilian merchant ship Panama Damage by an airstrike, location unknown 1 injured
26.02.2022 Sapfir Civilian search and rescue ship Ukraine Seized by the Russians on Snake Island No losses
1.03.2022 Raptor boat Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
1.03.2022 Raptor boat Raptor class patrol boat Russia Claimed to be hit by Ukrainian armed forces, no evidence in the Sea of Azov Unknown
3.03.2022 Slovyansk Island Patrol boat Ukraine Airstrike near Yuzny Unknown
3.03.2022 Banglar Samriddhi Civilian merchant ship Bangladesh Damage by a missile hit near Olvia port 1 dead
4.03.2022 Hetman Sahaydachniy Krivak III class frigate Ukraine Sunk at the pier by her own crew in Mykolaiv No losses
4.03.2022 Helt Merchant ship Panama Claimed to have been struck by a mine off the coast of Odessa No losses
14.03.2022 BG-14 UMS1000 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-24 UMS-1200 class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-311 Aist class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-310 Aist class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 BG-118 Zhuk class coast guard vessel Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Akkerman Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Vyshhorod Gurza-M class patrol boat Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
14.03.2022 Korets Sorum class tug Ukraine Seized by the Russians in the port of Berdiansk No losses
21.03.2022 Raptor boat Raptor class patrol boat Russia Hit with an anti-tank missile, in the Sea of Azov, towed back Unknown
24.03.2022 Saratov Alligator class LST Russia Explosion and fire; sank in Berdiansk port Unknown
24.03.2022 Tsezar Kunikov Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire damage in Berdiansk port 8 injured
24.03.2022 Novocherkassk Ropucha class LST Russia Explosion and fire damage in Berdiansk port 3 dead, 2 injured

I welcome any additions, changes or corrections.

 

The Montreux Convention Regarding The Regime Of The Straits: A Turkish Perspective

The Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the Turkish Straits was signed on 20 July 1936 in Montreux. With this convention, the Republic of Turkey managed to end the issue of Straits, which was resolved temporarily with the Treaty of Lausanne, so as to protect its own safety and interests.

Considering the historical developments, Turkey had to allow the Straits as a gun-free zone to be administered by the Straits Commission under the Treaty of Lausanne. This situation which threatened Turkey’s absolute sovereignty and security over its territory had to be corrected due to the increasing political tensions in Europe in the late 1930s. The Montreux Convention was the result of the political and diplomatic efforts that were made in this direction.

Through this convention that was signed by Australia, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Japan, France, Romania, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey, Turkey’s limited rights were given back. Turkey gained sovereignty over the Straits Zone. The USA was also invited to the conference that was held before the convention. However, the Washington Government preferred not to participate and thus couldn’t become a signatory.

500px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svg

Northwestern Turkey is divided by a complex waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. The channel passing between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara is named the İstanbul Boğazı, more commonly called the Bosporus. Istanbul, the largest city of Turkey is positioned at the south end of the Bosporus. The Sea of Marmara is connected to the Aegean Sea by a channel called the Çanakkale Boğazı, also known as the Dardanelles. The Turkish Straits, comprising the Strait of Canakkale, the Strait of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara, are unique in many respects. The very narrow and winding shape of the strait is more akin to that of the river. It is an established fact that the Turkish Straits are one of the most hazardous, crowded, difficult and potentially dangerous waterways in the world for marines. All the dangers and obstacles characteristic of narrow waterways are present and acute in this critical sea lane.

The Montreux Convention guarantees free passage of civilian merchant ships without any restriction through the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosporus in peacetime. Therefore, the adoption of the Turkish Straits Vessel Traffic Services System, which was put into practice by Turkey when the number and tonnages of vessels passing through the straits increased dramatically, became possible after serious diplomatic negotiations between the signatories of the Montreux Convention.

Six out of 29 articles of the Montreux Convention were related to the civilian merchant ships while 16 of them were related to warships and aircraft. Provisions regarding the passing of warships through the Straits vary depending on whether these ships belong to a country with or without a shore on the Black Sea. Also, these provisions vary depending on whether Turkey is belligerent or sees itself under a close war threat.

The definition of “ton” in the Montreux Convention, unless otherwise specified, refers to the long ton, which is equal to 1016 kg (2240 pounds) instead of the metric ton that is equal to 1000 kg.

Passage of warships
The Black Sea riparian countries have the right to transit their warships and submarines through the Straits without any tonnage restriction provided that Turkey is notified eight days prior to the transit passage through diplomatic channels

Ships that have a greater tonnage than 15.000 tons may pass through the Straits one by one and be escorted by not more than two destroyers.

Only submarines belonging to riparian states can pass on the surface and singly through the Turkish Straits, for the purpose of rejoining their base in the Black Sea for the first time after their construction or purchase, or for the purpose of repair in dockyards outside the Black Sea.

There are severe restrictions in terms of type, number and tonnage for the transit through the Straits of warships that belong to the non-Black Sea countries. These non-riparian countries are required to notify Turkey 15 days, prior to the transit through diplomatic channels.

The total number and the maximum aggregate tonnage of all foreign naval forces which may be in course of passage through the Turkish Straits are limited to 9 and 15.000 tons respectively. The maximum aggregate tonnage that non-riparian States may have in the Black Sea is 45.000 tons. In this regard, the maximum aggregate tonnage of the vessels of war that one non-riparian State may have in the Black Sea is 30.000 tons. The non-riparian states cannot keep their warships for more than 21 days in the Black Sea.

Due to its date of signing, the Montreux Convention does not have a clear statement with regard to nuclear-powered vessels. In fact, in the convention, there is not a statement with regard to the engine types of the ships that will pass through the Straits. In theory, the transit of a nuclear-powered ship through the Straits is not restricted. However, today nuclear-powered warships are either submarines or aircraft carriers with huge tonnage.

The transit of a submarine or an aircraft carrier belonging to a country without a shore on the Black Sea is not possible. Therefore, a nuclear-powered warship has not passed through the Straits officially so far.

The only type of warship that is exclusively banned from passage through the Turkish Straits is the aircraft carrier.

Turkish Straits during a War or Crisis
In the time of war Turkey not being belligerent, the peacetime rules apply for the warships belonging to non-belligerent parties. Warships belonging to the waring states cannot pass through the Turkish Straits, The only exception of this is that if the warships belonging to belligerent countries with or without a shore on the Black Sea have already left the ports that they are affiliated to before the war, they have the right to transit in order to return to their ports.

In time of war, Turkey being belligerent, the passage of warships is entirely left to the discretion of the Turkish Government.

The Southern enterance of the Bosphorus. The old city, The Golden Horn are visible at the bottom. At far left the first Bosphorus Bridge can be seen.

Similarly, if Turkey considers itself to be threatened with imminent danger of war, the transit of warships belonging to foreign countries through the Straits is left to the discretion of the Turkish Government.

By means of this authority, Turkey can prohibit the transit of warships belonging to the countries that cause Turkey to consider itself to be threatened with the danger of war while it can allow the transit of warships belonging to countries that do not cause that such situation.

With the Montreux Convention regarding the regime of the straits, which we have tried to summarize above, the number, type and size of the warships that can reach the Black Sea have been restricted. These restrictions increased the security of the riparian states. However, the same restrictions prevent the desire of countries with powerful naval forces to be present and cruise in all seas all around the world.

Turkey has been trying to implement the Montreux Convention with great precision since 1936. Therefore, occasionally Turkey is exposed to criticism from countries both with and without a shore on the Black Sea. The first big test of the Montreux Convention was, no doubt, the Second World War. Turkey closed the Straits to the warships of the belligerent countries during this war in which Turkey remained neutral. This situation served the purpose of the Soviet Union since the transit of German submarines and warships through the Straits was prevented. Axis countries couldn’t bring new warships to the Black Sea except for those that were already in the Black Sea before the war. Submarines were transferred in pieces by land or through the Danube River so that they could be assembled in Romania.

This however also prevented the military aid convoys coming from its allies, the UK and the USA, to pass through the Straits. Therefore, much of the military aid from the USA and UK had to be carried to Russia either over Iran or over the North Pole route.

Montreux During The Cold War
During the Cold War, Turkey was exposed to criticism both from the Soviet Union and the NATO allies from time to time due to its way of implementation of the Montreux Convention.

In 1976 when Turkey allowed the warship Kiev to pass through the Turkish Straits, many NATO allies including the USA protested Turkey. The Kiev, constructed in the Nikolayev Shipyard in the Black Sea in 1972 was considered as the first aircraft carrier constructed in the Soviet Union. However, having been quite aware of the fact that violating the Montreux Convention would not be good for its own benefit, the USSR classified Kiev as a heavy anti-submarine cruiser.

The Montreux Convention, defines aircraft carriers as surface warships, regardless of their tonnage, designed and constructed mainly to carry aircraft and enable their operation of them. If a warship was not designed or constructed with the sole purpose of carrying and operating aircraft, is not considered as an aircraft carrier even if the ship has a suitable deck for the aircraft’s take-off and landing.

Kiev and her sister ships had long-range anti-ship and air defence missiles as well as anti-submarine warfare rockets. Thus, the Soviet Union was able to classify these ships as heavy anti-submarine cruisers. All the ships of this class, Kiev, Minsk, Novorossiysk and Baku passed frequently both northbound and southbound through the Turkish Straits while they were commissioned.

This is not a carrier. Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov passing through Bosphorus

A similar crisis happened in 1991 when Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, still commissioned in the Russian Naval Forces, passed through the Turkish Straits. Although this ship looked like a classical aircraft carrier in terms of its structure, the Soviet Union classified it as a heavy cruiser due to weapon systems deployed onboard. Again some NATO members put serious pressure on Turkey not to allow this ship to pass through the Straits, but they didn’t succeed in this effort.

Unlike Kiev class ships, the Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov didn’t pass through the Straits ever, after leaving the Black Sea in December 1991.

Montreux in the New World
After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the U.S. Government requested help from the NATO countries within the scope of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. According to this article, an armed attack against a NATO country is considered an attack against all of the NATO countries.

In this context, on 26 October 2001 Operation Active Endeavour (OAE) the first anti-terror operation of NATO was launched. The operation began with the patrols of the warships belonging to NATO countries in the Eastern Mediterranean was later on expanded so as to search the suspicious ships and their loads.

Upon the success of the OAE in the Eastern Mediterranean, the operation was expanded to the whole Mediterranean in March 2004. At the same time, the Turkish Naval Forces launched Operation Black Sea Harmony (OBSH). The purpose of OBSH was to ensure security in the Black Sea, create situational awareness and control suspicious merchant ships. The recognized maritime picture obtained within the scope of the operation, which is still ongoing, is shared with the NATO authorities and headquarters.

Initially, only units of the Turkish Naval Forces participated in OBSH. Later Turkey invited all littoral countries in the Black Sea to participate in the operation that was launched with its own initiative, and Romania, Russia and Ukraine responded positively to this invitation. The most important effect of the OBSH was that all the pressure exerted to modify the Montreux Convention and expand the OAE into the Black Sea was neutralised. Otherwise, if OAE was extended into the Black Sea, warships belonging to non-riparian NATO countries would be regularly present in the Black Sea and successful implementation of the Montreux Convention would be jeopardised.

After the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, the Montreux Convention was widely discussed again. Turkey received a lot of flak for refusing the transit of the hospital ship USNS Comfort. The USA wanted to dispatch the ship with a 69.552 displacement to Georgia to show solidarity and provide aid. However the article of the Montreux Convention is very clear about the sizes of the ships to be sent for humanitarian reasons: “In the event that one or more countries without a shore on the Black Sea desire to send naval forces into the Black Sea, for a humanitarian purpose, the said forces cannot exceed 8.000 tons.” The neo-conservative U.S. government was not happy with this decision.

The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, and NATO’s anti-ballistic missile defence system were the most recent times when Ankara faced pressure on how it implemented the Montreux Convention in dealing with foreign navies’ requests for transit to and from the BlackSea.

What Now?
Turkey will face challenges regarding the implementation of the Montreux Convention, especially after Ukraine calls on Turkey to close its airspace and the Black Sea access to Russian vessels on 24 February 2022. The Russian invasion of Ukraine showed that Russia indeed is the major challenge in terms of the security and stability of Europe in general and the Black Sea region specifically.

Turkey created a security architecture in the Black Sea with the riparian states. This apparatus keep the security in the region and keep the warships of the non-riparian states out. This architecture worked when the Russian Black Sea Fleet was weak and the NATO’s enlargement toward the east was slow. It even survived the Russian attack on Georgia in 2008. However, in 2014, Russia’s annexation of Crimea meant the collapse of the regional security architecture.

In recent years, Russia displayed its discontent towards the existence of foreign warships in the Black Sea by shadowing them constantly and flying military planes aggressively low and close to these vessels of war. On the other hand, NATO is trying to find ways to keep more warships of non-riparian States in the Black Sea and keep them longer.

When determining ways to bring stability to the Black Sea region and to answer the security challenges caused by Russian aggression it is important to remember that the Montreux Convention is simply far more than just a treaty that regulates the passage of commercial and naval ships through the Turkish Straits.

The Montreux Convention completes the Treaty of Lausanne, allowing Turkey to have full and absolute sovereignty and security over its territory. Therefore it is vital for Turkey to keep the convention alive and relevant.

Note: I have first written this text in 2014 for the Turkish online defence magazine C4 Defence in Turkish. It was published in the March 2014 Issue. Since then it was also published on web site Second Line of Defense. I have changed the original text in light of the recent Russian attack on Ukraine.

A Primer On The Montreux Convention

500px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svgThis is just a short primer on the Montreux Convention that regulates the passage of Merchant and warship through the Turkish Straits.

Signed on 20 July 1936, The Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits gives Turkey full control over the Turkish Straits, guarantees the free passage of civilian vessels in peacetime and permits Turkey to remilitarise the Turkish Straits.

  1. The aim of the Montreux Convention is to regulate the passage of civilian and military ships through the Turkish Straits.
  2. The term Turkish Straits covers the Dardanelles, the Marmara Sea and the Bosporus.
  3. The Convention makes a clear differentiation between Black Sea countries (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia) and non-Black Sea countries.
  4. Merchant vessels enjoy total freedom of passage through the Turkish Straits.  Turkish Straits Vessel Traffic Services Centre regulates the passages according to the Maritime Traffic Regulations for the Turkish Straits dated 1998.
  5. The Black Sea Countries;
    • cannot pass warships solely designed to carry airplanes through Turkish Straits.
    • can pass submarines if they are joining their base in the Black Sea for the first time after their construction or purchase, or if they are returning from a repair in dockyards outside the Black Sea.
    • can pass their warships through Turkish Straits by notifying Turkey through diplomatic channels 8 days before the passage.
  6. The Non-Black Sea Countries;
    • cannot pass warships solely designed to carry airplanes through Turkish Straits.
    • cannot pass submarines.
    • can pass warships, but the aggregate displacement of the foreign warships in the Black Sea may not exceed 45.000 tons.
    • cannot hold their ships in the Black Sea longer than 21 days.
    • cannot have more than 9 ships in the Black Sea at the same time
    • can pass their warships through Turkish Straits by notifying Turkey through diplomatic channels 15 days before the passage.

For further reading:

  • The full text of the Montreux Convention can be found here.
  • The official Turkish stand of the implementation of  the Montreux Convention can be found here.

Dynamic Manta 2022 Has Started

The participating warships and submarines in one photo. Original photo by NATO Marcom, improvements by me.

NATO’s Submarine Warfare Exercise Dynamic Manta 2022 kicked on 21 February 2022, off the Sicilian coast, with ships, submarines, aircraft and personnel from 9 Allied nations.

According to the NATO press release, submarines from France, Greece, and Italy joined surface ships from Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. for the exercise. Maritime patrol aircraft from Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the U.K. and the U.S. support the simulated, multi-threat environment during the exercise.

The aim of this exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard for safety.

Aselsan Gökdeniz CIWS System Will Be Tested On Board TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa

Today the Rhein class auxiliary ship, TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa, left her homeport in Tuzla, İstanbul and headed to the Black Sea.

TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa and her sister TCG Cezarli Hasan Paşa have two 100mm gun turrets. The aft turet on board of TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa was removed in 2018. She was used as test ship for the Aselsan made close in weapon system Korkut-D in May 2018.

After the completion of these tests, the Korkut-D mount and the associated hardware was removed from the ship.

Today TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa was spotted with a new gun system installed. While the whole gun system and the associated radars and other sensors were under wraps the shape of the system is very distinguishable. The system to be tested is the Gökdeniz close-in weapon system.

Gökdeniz consists of one unmanned gun turret with two 35mm guns, an X band 3-D tracking radar and one fire control radar with electro/optical sensors. All subsystems of the Gökdeniz system are recognizable on board.

The gun turret has been remodelled from her initial version making it suitable to be retrofitted in place of the existing CIWS systems on board. The guns can use the ATOM 35mm airburst ammunition developed by ASELSAN. ATOM is a smart ammunition, having a base fuze increasing the effectiveness of the barreled guns. Thus such ammunition is an important option to fight against small and high-speed targets.

The X band tracking radar has a range of 100km. With its phased array, multi-beam antenna the radar can track multiple air targets simultaneously.

The Gökdeniz close-in weapon system will be installed onboard Barbaros class frigates during their mid-life upgrade, İ class frigates and in the future other ships.

Rostov-na-Donu Returns Home

The Russian submarine Rostov-na-Donu passing through Istanbul, escorted by the Turkish Coast Guard vessels

Today improved Kilo-class (Proj. 636.3) submarine of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Rostov-na-Donu made northbound passage through Bosphorus.
13.12.2015. During her passage, Turkish Coast Guard vessels TCSG-312 and KB-4309 escorted the submarine.

She has 6 533mm torpedo tubes and carries a combination of up to 18 torpedoes, SS-N-27 anti-ship, and Kalibr land-attack missiles.

She passed southbound through Istanbul on 23.06.2020 for overhaul at the Admiralty Yard in St. Petersburg.

Turkish Parliament Extends The Presence Of The Navy In Gulf Of Aden For One Year

On 2nd February 2022, The Grand National Assembly of Turkey, extended the presence of the Turkish Navy in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and adjacent seas for one more year.

The first bill allowing the Turkish government to deploy Turkish Naval Forces for anti-piracy operations was accepted on 10 February 2009. It was extended in one year periods ever since.

Turkish warships are  tasked with:

  • Performing reconnaissance and patrol duties,
  • Calling on ships suspected of piracy/ armed robbery, on the radio, boarding them if their flag country approves and interfering by the international law if the ship is not showing any flag,
  • Escorting and protecting merchant ships,
  • Helping merchant ships under the attack of pirates/sea robbers,
  • Intervening, stopping, neutralizing, and confiscating any vessels used by pirates/sea robbers, and using proper force if necessary,
  • Arresting and detaining pirates/sea robbers and armed persons in these vessels,
  • Accepting the representatives of the countries that will prosecute pirates/ armed robbers on board, for the preparations of judicial proceedings, according to the UN resolution 1851.
  • Arresting and detaining, pirates/armed robbers on board until they are being handed over to the countries that will prosecute them,
  • Turning in, the suspects of pirates/sea robbers except for the case that these are Turkish citizens, to the authorities the nation where the pirates/sea robbers will be prosecuted,
  • Executing all kinds of policing duties including interrogation, collecting evidence.

Since 2009, the Turkish Navy took the helm of the multinational anti-piracy task force CTF-151, 6 times and made at least 21 deployments to the region in order to combat piracy.

Russian Minehunter Georgy Kurbatov Passed Through Istanbul

The Project 12700 Aleksandrit class minehunter Georgy Kurbatov made her inaugural passage through Istanbul this afternoon. She was towed by the Project 22870 class rescue Tug SB-739 Spasatel Vasily Bekh.

It was not clear why the mine hunter was towed. One reason is to preserve her engines and not to used unnecessarily. Another reason is not to reveal her engine and propeller signature to other parties. Or may be simply she had some technical troubles and needed to be towed.

The passage of these two warships was preceded in the morning by the transit of Project 23120 class logistics support vessel Vsevolod Bobrov. It, too was her first passage through Istanbul.

Converting LHD Anadolu To A Drone Carrier

Prologue: This article was first published in Defence Turkey Magazine Issue 106.

It is not a secret that Turkey intends to operate an aircraft carrier. This desire was made public by President Erdoğan during his speech at the launching ceremony of the frigate TCG Istanbul.

The interest of Turkey to operate airplanes from a large ship with a big flight deck is not new. This is a lesson learned from the big humanitarian assistance operation in Libya. Between 19 February and 4 March 2011, Turkey evacuated 23.127 persons from Libya fleeing from the fighting in the country. 8.351 evacuees were transported by sea. The need for a large amphibious ship with a large flight deck and a dock becomes very apparent during this Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation. During the evacuation, a few times, F-16 fighter planes of the Turkish Air Force had to be flown from Turkey to Libya to provide airpower, an operation requiring multiple in-flight refuelling. Despite all the hardship and the cost of flying land-based F-16 fighters from Turkey to Libya their time on target was not adequate and they were not available on short notice. These operations showed the niceties of having an organic air force for the Turkish Navy.

In 2015 the Turkish defence procurement agency Savunma Sanayi Başkanlığı announced that Spanish Navantia’s solution for a large amphibious assault ship was chosen after a long tendering process. The ship is based on Navatia’s Juan Carlos LHD design and is very similar to SPS Juan Carlos 1 in Spanish and, HMAS Canberra, HMAS Adelaide in RAN service. The construction of the ship named Anadolu started in 2016. When finished Anadolu will be the largest ship in Turkish Navy inventory and the first Turkish naval platform where multiple helicopters can launch and land at once and fixed-winged air vehicles can operate. Anadolu will provide a unique experience and platform for the Turkish Armed Forces.

The ousting of Turkey from the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Program has forced Turkey to change its plans. Turkey was a member of the F-35II Lightning fighter plane program for the start and wished to buy around 100 land-based F-35A versions for the Turkish Air Force. Later it was decided to buy a modest number of vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) variant F-35B to be used onboard Anadolu. 6 to 8 planes deployed on board would provide air cover and perform strike missions during amphibious operations. Since the ship was designed to accommodate and operate Harrier in Spanish service it would be F-35 compatible with little changes. However, the ousting of Turkey from the F-35 Lighting II program made all these plans redundant. Necessity is the mother of invention. Thus, alternatives for F-35B are under consideration. There are two realistic options available for the Turkish Government and the Navy. The first is to convert the Anadolu, to accommodate unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

In March 2021 the president of the Savunma Sanayi Başkanlığı, Prof. İsmail Demir told that work was done to deploy unmanned combat aerial vehicles from Anadolu. Both the Sedef shipyard where the ship is constructed and Baykar Makina, one of the leading drone manufacturers, are conducting studies for this end. Selcuk Bayraktar, the CTO of Baykar Makina has announced that they are working on a new unmanned combat aerial vehicle TB-3 which will be able to be operated from Anadolu. The TB-3 is expected to start test flights in 12 months. It will have a maximum take-off weight of 1200 kg and will carry heavier ammunition compared to the contemporary UCAV, Bayraktar TB-2. To withstand the rigours of landing on a noticeably short and constantly moving flight deck the TB-3 will have a reinforced airframe and landing gear. TB-3 is believed to have foldable wings to make it easier to move on the flight deck and inside the hangar.

Currently, it is not clear whether Anadolu can accommodate the future UCAV in her current design or changes are needed. If structural changes are needed, these may further postpone the delivery of the ship. And if any changes are needed the redesigning of the hip will be performed by Sedef Shipyard as Navantia who has developed the original ship design has finished its contractual obligations.

While operating UCAV will be easier and probably safer than operating a manned system never the less it will be a novel concept and will be a unique experience with its own challenges. The Bayraktar TB-3 UCAV will enhance the air to ground mission capabilities. However, air defence and air-to-air operations missions will still need land-based manned fighters or ground-to-air weapons and good sensors on escorting ships.

Another option to deploy planes on board Anadolu is to redesign the Hürjet advanced jet trainer and light attack craft for carrier operations. Hürjet is a single-engine, tandem seat aircraft under development by Turkish Aerospace TAI. During the above-mentioned interview, Mr. İsmail Demir mentioned that discussions between SSB and TAI were held on whether Hürjet can be used on Anadolu. He also told that some design changes were carried out, some simulations were made and it has been concluded that the design can be modified to make Hürjet operate from a ship such as Anadolu. Adapting the ship and Hürjet planes for each other will be more challenging than developing new armed drones for shipborne operations. An important factor to be considered is the shape of the flight deck of Anadolu.

The flight deck of Anadolu is in a rectangular shape with a large island structure on the starboard side and a 12 degree Ski jump at the front. There is a large aircraft elevator at the very aft of the flight deck. In its current form, the flight deck resembles the flight decks of old aircraft carriers from 2. World War. The arrangement was acceptable as long as the planes had a low landing speed and were light although it was not without its hazards. However, when the planes got faster due to jet engines and heavier a rectangular flight deck arrangement was not safe or sufficient to sustain operations. Thus in the early 1950’ies, Royal Navy devised the angled flight deck. In this configuration, the flight deck has an angle of 6 degrees. This allowed the landing plane to roll away from the planes on the catapult waiting for launching. Ever since all modern aircraft carriers of all nations -with the exception of carriers specially designed for the Harrier S/VTOL planes- have an angled flight deck.

Anadolu does not have an angled flight deck. Thus, in her current form, she is only suitable for planes that can launch using a ski jump and land vertically or land in a very short distance. If Hürjet planes are to be configured to be used onboard Anadolu these planes need to be resigned radically. This will cost time and money. And the end result may not be satisfactory as it is very risky engineering work. A more realistic approach would be while modifying Hürjet for naval operations to design a new ship with a suitable launch and recover facilities that are suitable for navalised Hürjet. From an engineering point of view, this scenario is far more likely to be successful. But then again it will cost time and money and the planes will not be compatible with Anadolu.

Of course, one can always suggest buying a second-hand ship as an alternative. However, I believe that this road is a dead-end though Turkey has been looking for this option. Even when the construction of Anadolu was progressing, in 2017, Turkey showed interest in the ex-Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Ocean when she was decommissioned from Royal Navy service. The ship was not new and had extensive service in Royal Navy but never less someone thought the purchase of HMS Ocean would have increased the strength of the amphibious capabilities Turkish Navy and added new capabilities.

Head of Bahçeşehir University, Maritime and Global Strategies Center, Retired admiral Cihat Yaycı, told in March 2021 that the Turkish Navy should convert the decommissioned aircraft carrier ex Foch, ex São Paulo back to active service. The ship was bought by a Turkish scrapyard in March 2021 and will be towed from Brazil to Turkey. The ship started her life as French aircraft carrier Foch in 1963 and served in French Naval Forces until 2000. After years of arduous service under the French flag, she was sold to the Brazilian Naval Forces and renamed as NAe São Paulo. This old lady served 20 years in Brazil. After a major fire killing 3 crew members, the ship was extensively overhauled between 2005 and 2010. São Paulo was expected to rejoin the fleet in late 2013 but suffered another major fire in 2012. As of September 2016, she continued to undergo repairs, the commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Eduardo Leal Ferreira, said plans were in place to renew the carrier’s propulsion system. The ship’s catapult was also reported to have problems.

Mr. Yaycı believes that the Turkish Navy should acquire the ship. After refurbishing her back into working condition, the ship can be used for training and system familiarization purposes.

The old French carrier operates like US Navy carriers catapult to launch airplane and arrester wires to slow landing planes. Neither Turkish Naval Aviation nor Turkish Air Force operates airplanes that are suitable for operations from a carrier and Turkey’s prospects to obtain such planes from abroad seems to be almost nonexistent. The idea of refurbishing this old and worn-out ship back to active service is absurd time consuming and very costly. Time and money are two luxuries Turkey cannot afford to misspend. Warships like any ship is a living system consisting of their crew, her equipment, systems and subsystems on board. Learning of the working of an organism is best done when one observes a living one and to through autopsies. Thus, posting Turkish naval officers as liaisons on board the aircraft carriers of our NATO partners is a better way of learning about the multiple aspects of operations onboard rather than dissecting the cadavers of decommissioned aircraft carriers sent to break yards in Aliağa.

Epilogue: During an interview in December 2021, Mr. İsmail Demir told the reporters that the primary aim was to commission the Anadolu into the Turkish Navy in her original design. When the carrier-borne drone TB-3 is materialised, the adaptation of these unmanned planes into the ship will be revised.

FS Auvergne Passed Southbound Through Istanbul

The French warship FS Auvergne made her southbound transit through Istanbul this morning and left the Black Sea.

Her northbound passage was on 13 December 2021. During her deployment to the Black Sea, the ship visited Constanta, Romania and Odessa, Ukraine.

This was her first Black Sea deployment.


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