Russia Sees The US Navy’s Bet And Rises One

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

The show down between Russia and USA on the Black Sea is continuing and it seems that it will not end before the Olympics.

While the US Navy warships LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney and FFG-50 USS Taylor are doing circles or “doughnuts” off the coast of Sochi, the Russians have called their Kashnin class destroyer Smetlivy back from the Mediterranean.

The large anti-submarine ship Smetlivy was laid in 1966 and commissioned in 1969. She is the sole remaining Kashin class destroyer and is attached to Russian Black Sea Fleet. She was refitted from 1990 till 1996. Though she is one of the oldest vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, she is still very active and made frequent deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Karadeniz

USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor off the coast of Sochi.

As Smetlivy belongs to the Russian Black Sea Fleet her return to the Black Sea may be just the end of her regular deployment or and counter move to the two circling US navy warships off the coast of Sochi. It depends largely to your perspective and your perception of the news.

As I have said before and again, I believe the deployment of the two US Navy warships to the Black Sea is more political rather than practical as both ships lack the necessary means to conduct a civilian evacuation operation properly. They do not have (as far as I know) any marine detachments to provide security on shore around the civilians waiting for their evacuation at the deployment site nor enough boats or helicopters to ferry the civilians to the ships.

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USNS Spearhead, doing her circles in the North Aegean. Will she pass through the Turkish Straits?

Russia made it very clear that the US Navy presence is legal but not welcomed much. Well if Russians are unhappy about the US Navy ships off the coast of Sochi, I believe Russians are to blamed for this. If they have called in the multinational maritime security task force BlackSeaFor, to support them to secure the Olympics it would may prevented non Black Sea nations to mingle.

The BlackSeaFor consists of warships from Black Sea nations and the task force is activated twice a year (in April and in August). The main purpose of the BlackSeaFor was to cooperatively promote security and stability in the Black Sea maritime area and beyond. Fighting against terrorism was added when the scope of the BlackSeaFor was extended. With three NATO navies  (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania) among the participants, the BlackSeaFor is has the capability and the means to help the Russians to secure the maritime front of the Olympics and assure other nations to help their citizens if needed.

In the mean time another US (war)ship is making her doughnuts in the North Aegean: JHSV-1 USNS Spearhead. She  is the first ship in the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel (a very fancy name for ferryboat), to be operated by the Military Sealift Command and christened on 17 September 2011. Vessels similar to USNS Spearhead, from the same shipbuilder, are being used by Istanbul Fast Ferries to carry passengers and vehicles around Marmara Sea. If deployed to the Black Sea the USNS Spearhead would provide means to US Navy to mass evacuation of civilians.

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August Activation Of The BlackSeaFor

F-241 TCG Turgutreis passing through the Bosphorus to join the BLACKSEAFOR task force. Photo Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

F-241 TCG Turgutreis passing through the Bosphorus to join the BLACKSEAFOR task force. Photo Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

F-241 TCG Turgutreis passing through the Bosphorus to join the BLACKSEAFOR task force. Photo Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

F-241 TCG Turgutreis passing through the Bosphorus to join the BLACKSEAFOR task force. Photo Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

On 13 August 2013 Turkish frigate F-241 TCG Turgutreis passed through the Bosphorus and headed to Sevastopol in order to join the August activation of thee BlackSeaFor task force.

The Ukrainian Navy is commanding the task force. This is the official Statement of Ukrainian Ministry of Defence:

Today, August 14, to the port of Sevastopol came for a visit and to early August 2013 Activation of the Black Sea Naval Cooperation (BLACKSEAFOR). Commanders moored at the pier bay chickens’ secundines tralshyka “surf” (Bulgarian Navy) missile hovercraft “Bora” (Russian Black Sea Fleet) corvette “Eustatiu Sebastian” (Navy League), frigate HRH “Turgutreis” (Turkish Navy) and ship management “Center” (Naval Forces of Ukraine) made ​​a courtesy visit to the newly appointed commander BLACKSEAFOR captain 1 rank Andrey Tarasov (Naval Forces of Ukraine).

The ships began establishing connection communication system “computer-to-computer” FORESC, which will enable the exchange of information while performing tasks in the sea.

Today at Staff Connection ships – ships of Commander Naval Forces of Ukraine “Center” held a press conference Command BLACKSEAFOR. Commander connection captain 1 rank Andrey Tarasov (Navy Ukraine) and commanders of ships made protocol visits to the Ukrainian Navy command and leadership Sevastopol City State Administration.

Acting Commander of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, Vice Admiral Sergei Eliseev during a meeting with the command protocol connection has expressed satisfaction with the development of friendly relations within the framework BLACKSEAFOR and belief that during the current activation sailors will gain a new experience of interaction, will further strengthen the confidence and stability in the Black Sea region.

Visiting ships in Sevastopol is pursuant to the Agreement on the Black Sea group of naval cooperation, the Committee’s decision commanders of naval forces in the Black Sea and in accordance with the list of activities of military cooperation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in July-August 2013.

Activation will continue until September 3.

Help. BLACKSEAFOR is a naval (ship) connection “on call”, created according to the “Agreement on the establishment of the Black Sea Naval Cooperation”, signed on 2 April 2001 in Istanbul (Turkey). The main objectives are BLACKSEAFOR operations of search and rescue, humanitarian operations, anti-landmine threat operations for the protection of the environment, exchange of visits of goodwill and other tasks agreed by the participating countries.

August 17, with the participation of delegations commander of naval forces in the Black Sea region’s change of command ceremony BLACKSEAFOR, on a rotating basis, it would be transferred from the Navy to the Republic of Naval Forces of Ukraine.

In the second half of 15, 16 and 18 August the ship connections are open to visitors and residents of Sevastopol.

On August 20 ships planned output connection to the sea, where they will be training on anti-submarine, air defense, down the aisle at minesweeper, in connection with search and rescue, swimming in the warrant, with tactical maneuvering and others.

During activation, the ship will also visit with friendly visits ports of Novorossiysk (Russia) and Sinop (Turkey).

Following ships are taking part:

Pennant
Ship
Type
Country
F-241 TCG Turgutreis Frigate Turkey
62 BGS Priboy Mine sweeper Bulgaria
P-24 GCG Sokhumi Patrol Boat Georgia
264 ROS Contraamiral Eustaţiu Sebastian Corvette Romania
615 RFS Bora Fast Attack Craft Russia
U-510 UPS Slavutich Command Ship Ukraine

The BlackSeaFor Activation Continues

The Commander of the BlackSeaFor task force ships. Photo: Black Sea News. Used with permission

The Commander of the BlackSeaFor task force ships. Photo: Black Sea News. Used with permission

While the French, The Cypriots and the Turkish navies are busy in simulating searching and rescuing distressed people in the seas, the navies of the Black Sea countries are continuing the April 2013 activation the BlackSeaFor.

Interestingly the ships of the BlackSeaFor task force did simulated a search and rescue operation in high sea among themselves.

The excellent Black Sea News has a very good posting about the Black Sea For.

Also, during a training exercise on the transition from Varna to Constanta on the ships received a sudden opening of the command BLACKSEAFOR. At some point, every ship conditionally breaks down the steering, and crews conducted training on the transition from primary to spare and emergency management vehicles.

Not without one of the most important episodes of the exercise – the search and rescue of people at sea. With Turkish helicopter into the water was dumped mannequin man. At this time, the ships were in international squadron of fifteen miles away, at a distance of a mile of each other. The task of each crew were the first to discover and climb aboard the “victim.”

Here distinguished Ukrainian crew of sea trawler “Cherkasy”, commanded by Captain 3rd Rank Yuri Fedash.

By his order on the ship was enhanced visual observation of the water area above the water with the help of all shipboard optical devices. Upon arrival to the area of ​​Ukrainian sailors first discovered the “victim” on the surface of the sea, and successfully lifted on board. At the end of the first stage of the exercise of sea ships Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Group BLACKSEAFOR stopped to rest in the Romanian port of Constanta.

Read the whole text here.

The April Activation Of The BlackSeaFor Has Started

The warships participating in the April 2013 activation of the BlackSeaFor have arrived in Varna, Bulgaria for the event kick off.

This is a video from Russian website tvzvezda.ru about the Russian participation, but many other ships are seen in the video too.

Click here to watch the video

The April 2013 Activation Of The BlackSeaFor

Turkish Milgem class corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada. The flagship of the BlackSeaFor task force.

Turkish Milgem class corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada. The flagship of the BlackSeaFor task force. This photo was taken during the August 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The warships of Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey will take part in the April 2013 activation of the BlackSeaFor between 5 and 23 of April.

The warship of the BlackseaFor, under the Command of Turkish Navy, will spend 6 days on the sea and 13 days visiting Varna, Constanta and Sevastopol. During this activation search and rescue training, simulation training and navigation, tactical maneuvering and communication training will be conducted.

The Milgem class corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada will be the flagship of the BlackSeaFor.

Following ships will take part in the April 2013 activation:

Number
Name
Nation
Type
F-511 TCG Heybeliada (Flagship) Turkey Corvette
142 RFS Novocherkassk Russia Frigate
13 BGS Reshitelni Bulgaria Corvette
265 ROS C.A. Horia Macellariu Romania Corvette
U-311 UPS Cherkasy Ukraine Minehunter
P-24 GCG Sokhumi Georgia Patrol Boat

The Russian large landing ship 142 RFS Novocherkassk.
This photo was taken during the August 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The Bulgarian Corvette 13 BGS Reshitelni. This photo was taken during the April 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The Bulgarian Corvette 13 BGS Reshitelni. This photo was taken during the April 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The Romanian Tetal 2 class corvette 265 Contraamiral Horia Macellariu. This photo was taken during the August 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The Romanian Tetal 2 class corvette 265 Contraamiral Horia Macellariu. This photo was taken during the August 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

This photo was taken during the April 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The Ukrainian mine hunter U-311 UPS Cherkasy. This photo was taken during the April 2012 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

This photo was taken during the April 2011 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The Georgian Patrol Boat P-24 GCG Sokhumi. This photo was taken during the April 2011 Activation of the BlackSeaFor.

The BlackSeaFor Task Force Sailed Into The The Black Sea.

Turkish Milgem class corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada. The flagship of the BlackSeaFor task force.

The Bulgarian minesweeper 62 BGS Shkval

The Russian large landing ship 142 RFS Novocherkassk

The Romanian Tetal 2 class corvette 265 Contraamiral Horia Macellariu

The Ukrainian command ship U-510 Slavutich

Yesterday, after the command handover ceremony in Gölcük Naval Base, the 5 ships participating to this activation of the BlackSeaFor sailed away to their next port of call Trabzon, Istanbul. In order to this they had to pass through Bosphorus, where I was expecting them, as you can see from the photos above.

The August Activation Of The BlackSeaFor

F-511 TCG Heybeliada. The new flagship of the BlackSeaFor.

The August activation of BlackSeaFor will start today with a ceremony in Gölcük Naval Base, Izmit, Turkey.

The Russian Navy will hand over the command of the BlackSeaFor to Turkey. The activation of the BlackSeaFor will end on 24th August. During that time the task force will conduct several exercises and will visit Trabzon, Turkey and Novorossiysk, Russia.

Number
Name
Nation
Type
F-511 TCG Heybeliada (Flagship) Turkey Corvette
U-510 UPS Slavutich Ukraine Command Ship
141 RFS Novocherkassk Russia Large Landing Ship
F-265 Contraamiral Horia Macellariu Romania  Corvette
62 BGS Shkval Bulgaria Minesweeper

I was not able to identify the participating unit from Bulgaria and Romania. Any information regarding this ship these ships is welcome. Thanks to Mr. Mommsen from the excellent German maritime magazine Marineforum, I have all the information I needed about the participating ships.

On Board Of The BlackSeaFor Ships

As I have reported earlier, the ships of the BlackSeafor fleet visited Istanbul between 20 and 23 April 2012. They were open to the public and I took the opportunity to visit them all.

It was an interesting experience for me as I was able to compare different ships build by very different construction standards and naval traditions in a very short period of time.

The first thing that struck me was how important it is to create a common communication capability among the ships of different nations when creating a multinational task force. The guides on the foreign ships were very friendly and they could even have been very talkative if I was able to speak their native language.

The first ship on the tour was the flagship of this activation the Rophuca (Project 775) class landing ship of Russian Navy Tsesar Kunikov.

The rivets on Tsesar Kunikov joining the aluminum superstructure and steel hull.

The tour was limited to the outside of the ship. The hull where the military cargo is loaded was made of steel, where the superstructure is made of aluminum to save weight I guess. This explains why there are so many rivets on side of the ship where the superstructure meets the hull. The parts of the ship made from different metals were joined by rivets in an old fashioned way rather than by welding.

An intensive network of water pipes and sprinklers was visible on the outer hull of the ship. I believe the main use of this system to was the ship against nuclear fall-out. But I think such system is very handy to fight a potential fire considering the fatal and devastating fires happened on aluminum hulled ships.

I was positivity surprised to learn that we were able to take photo on board of the Russian ship. This might be my prejudices dating back before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

My quick peeks through the portholes showed me a very spartan and basic interior rooms. I would like to have more information about the habitat and sea worthiness of the ship if my guide was more fluent in English.

The second ship was the Turkish frigate TCG Yavuz. On board I was able to get all the information I could get from our guide as there was no language barrier but interestingly this ship was the only one were the visitors that to submit their mobile phones ans cameras prior to the start of the tour.

One of the two RBU 6000 ASW mortar launchers on board C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian.

The next stop was the Romanian Improved Tetal class corvette C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian. Our guide told us that the primary mission of this ship was ASW. This explains the lack of any guided weapons on board. The main armament consists of 4 piece 533mm torpedo tubes. These were the largest torpedo tubes I have seen on board of a ship. If I did translate it correctly one of the tubes is used as garbage bin for plastic waste.

Although the Tetal class is a indigenous Romanian design, the Russian influence on the design of the ship thought the weapon and sensor systems is obvious. Besides TCG Yavuz, C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian was the only ship were we have been allowed inside of the ship. Our guide was working on this ship for that last 10 years as the helmsman.

One of the four 406mm torpedo tubes for Type 40 ASW torpedoes on board Reshitelni.

Next we have boarded the Bulgarian Pauk I class Reshitelni corvette. Like the Romanian ship the main role of this ship is ASW. There are ASW rockets, torpedo tubes and depth charges as main armament a 76mm gun for other operations and a close in weapon system for self defense. The usefulness of the variable depth sonar for ASW Operations in the Black Sea remains a mystery for me. An extensive piping for the external wash down system was a clear indicator for me that the Russians were really expecting the use of nuclear or chemical weapons at a conflict during the Cold War.

Mine sweeping gear on board Cherkasy

The last ship we have visited was the Ukrainian Natya I (project 266M) class mine sweeper Cherkasy. She is well armed for a mine sweeper compared to the ships with similar duties in most of the NATO navies. There are 4 turrets of 30mm guns and 2 turrets of 25mm guns. In comparison the newest Turkish mine hunters of Aydın class have one barreled 40mm gun turret.

All the mine sweeping is done by mechanical means in old school way. I have been told that there were no divers on board. The ship was crammed, so I guess it is not easy to work on the sweeping gear in rough seas.

The front 57mm/75 AK725 gun on Tsesar Kunikov

The port side UMS-73 missile launcher for Grad-M missiles on Tsesar Kunikov

Bass Tilt H/I band fire control radar on Tsesar Kunikov

Port side 533mm torpedo tubes for 53-65 torpedoes on C.A.E. Sebastian. The sign on the right one says "plastic garbage".

One of the two RBU 6000 ASW mortar launchers on board C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian

Starboard, Square Head IFF antenna on C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian

Peel Cone E band search radar on Reshitelni

Port side depth charges rack with 6 charges on Reshitelni

The port side RBU 1500 ASW mortar launcher on Reshitelni

The port 25mm, twin barreled gun on Cherkasy

30mm AK306 gun on Cherkasy

GKT-2 contact sweeper on Cherkasy

Photos Of BlackSeaFor Ships, As They Arrived In Istanbul

The April activation of the BlackSeaFor finished this week and the ships that took part have returned to their home ports. Istanbul was the last stop for the BlackSeafor fleet.

The following ships arrived in Istanbul on 20th April 2012 for the port visit.

Number
Name
Nation
Participants
158 RFS Tsesar Kunikov (Flagship) Russia Landing Ship
F-240 TCG Yavuz Turkey Frigate
13 BGS Reshitelni Bulgaria Corvette
264 ROS C.A. Eustatiu Sebastian Romania Corvette
U-311 UPS Cherkasy Ukraine Minehunter

I was able to take photos of these  ships as they have entered into Bosphorus. I was also able to visit them while they were in Istanbul and take photos on board. But that is stuff of another post.

For more news on April 2012, activation of the BlackSeaFor click here and here.

BlackSeaFor Task Force Will Leave Sevastopol

F-240 TCG Yavuz, entering Sevastopol harbor. Photo: Official Ukraine Armed Forces

On 17th April 2012, the ships of the BlackSeaFor naval task force will end their port visit in Sevastopol, Ukraine and will be sailing again for further training.

This is the google translation of the official announcement from the Ukraine Defence Ministry website:

April 10-12 ships, after four-day stay in the port of Constanta (Romania), which began on April 6 activation, on the way to Sevastopol on the Black Sea held a series of exercises, including the control of trade shipping, air and surface conditions, search and rescue , towing, cargo transfer, swimming in the order.

According to the visit, today, April 13, held a meeting protocol command prompt connection with ships acting commander of the type of Armed Forces of Ukraine Vice-Admiral George Il’yinym.

Vice Admiral George Il’yin at the meeting expressed satisfaction with the state of friendly relations in the framework agreement BLACKSEAFOR.

– The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine responsible attitude to training and directly participate in activation, because we believe that the connection BLACKSEAFOR ships played a major role in maintaining peace and stability in the Black Sea region – said the acting commander of the Navy Armed Forces of Ukraine. He also expressed hope that the sailors BLACKSEAFOR member countries will remain the best references to stay in Sevastopol.

The commander of the operational connection BLACKSEAFOR captain 1 rank Yury Zemsky (Russian Federation), in turn, thanked the Ukrainian side for the warm welcome and stressed the importance of cooperation between the sailors to strengthen friendly relations.

Protocol meeting also took place in Sevastopol City State Administration.

Crews of ships BLACKSEAFOR during his stay in Sevastopol will be able to see the historical sights of the city.

14 and 15 April from 15.00 to 18.00 ships BLACKSEAFOR connection will be open to visiting guests and residents of Sevastopol.

As planned, 17 April operational international connection will be released from the port of Sevastopol on the implementation of other measures, the plan activation, will last through April 24.

For more news on BlackSeaFor’s April activation click here.

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