The April Activation Of The BlackSeaFor Has Started

158 RFS Tsesar Kunikov in Istanbul, in 2008.

On 6th April 2012 the Spring Activation of the call-on naval task force BlackSeaFor has started in Constanta, Romania.

The Russian Federation is in command of the BlackSeaFor since August 2011 and the Russian landing ship Tsesar Kunikov is the flagship of the force. This activation of the BlackSeaFor will last until 24th April. during this period the task force will spend 6 days underway and 12 days in visiting Constanta, Sevastopol and Istanbul.

This is the current composition of BlackSeaFor:

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

During this activation of the task force following activities are scheduled:

Peace support operation, and search and rescue training,
Participating in joint training Exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012,
Maritime, tactical maneuvering and combat training.

Turkish Navy Starts Deniz Yıldızı 2012 Exercise

F-511 TCG Heybeliada, the Milgem class corvette on her northbound passage in Bosphorus prior to the Deniz Yıldızı naval exercise.

According to the official announcement made from Turkish Navy website the naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2012 has started today.

The exercise will be conducted in the Black Sea and Marmara Sea. 8 frigates (half of the inventory), 1 corvette, 3 submarines, 7 fast attack craft, 4 auxiliaries, 4 maritime patrol aircraft, 6 helicopters and various special forces and EOD teams will take part in the exercise. The non navy units taking part in the exercise are 13 coast guard vessels, 2 coast guard helicopter and various planes from Turkish Air Force.

Live missile firings will be performed during the exercise.  Inebolu, Sinop, Samsun, Ordu, Trabzon, Rize, Hopa  and Novoroski ports will be visited by the participating units.

The aim of the exercise is to test the ability and the capability of Turkish Navy to performs its duties especially in the Black Sea. In this context a section of the Deniz Yıldızı 2012 will be conducted with the participation of the BlackSeaFor (which was activated on 6th April). This joint training will improve the ability of the Black Sea navies to make joint operations and to increase their readiness and training levels.

The Turkish Navy schedules the annual Deniz Yıldızı exercise  to be at the same time with the Spring activation of the BLACKSEAFOR. During the last couple exercises one decommissioned ship was sunk as target during the live firing part.

HS Rodos And The BlackSeaFor Fleet Met In Varna

HS Rodos in Varna. Photo: Fox2Magazine Blog

According to the Greek defence blog Fox2magazine the Greek landing ship HS Rodos arrived in Varna, Bulgaria on 25th August 2011. She will be open to public visit on 26th and 27th 2011.

Interestingly, the fleet of the BlackSeafor also arrived in Varna for the last visit of the August 2011 activation. The ships left Trabzon, Turkey on 23th August and on their way to Varna they have performed numerous underway drills, such as control over surface situation, sailing in formations, tactical maneuvering, signaling and communications, observation over civil ships and airplanes, interception and search of a “violator” vessel, organization of air defense.

The activation of the BlackSeaFor will end on 29th August. It is not clear when HS Rodos will return from the Black Sea.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet Conducted An Exercise

Ropucha class large landing ship Azov

According to Russian naval portal rusnavy.com, The Black Sea Fleet of Russian Navy conducted an exercise.

The Krivak class, frigates Ladny and Pytlivy carried out mine-laying drills and held a torpedo firing at an “enemy” ship. The  crews performed gun firing at a towed ship silhouette which imitated the surface target, and group antiaircraft warfare with gun firings at air targets.

Ropucha class large landing ship Yamal

The flagship of the Black Sea Fleet Slava class cruiser Moskva and the frigate Pytlivy also conducted shore bombardment at the fleet’s Opuk Range.

Large landing ships Azov and Yamal have performed similar tasks at the same range. Improving engagement skills, the crews fired non-guided rockets at coastal targets as a preparation for landing assault.

Well, Mosvka, Ladny, Pytlivy, Azov and Yamal are the most active ships of the Russian BSF. The sixth one landing ship Tsezar Kunikovl  is currently with the BlackSeaFor. Thus all active and more or less seaworthy ships of the fleet received some training.

BlackSeaFor in Trabzon

The commanders of BlackSeaFor ships visit the governor of Trabzon.

The ships of the BlackSeaFor arrived in Trabzon for a four day port visit.

This is the first visit of the BlackSeaFor fleet to Trabzon in its 10 years existence. The next scheduled stop for the fleet is Varna, Bulgaria.

During the weekend the ships will be open for the public.

The visit of BlackSeaFor to Trabzon is noteworthy as there is a plan to develop a naval base in Trabzon. In 2009, the Chief of General Staff of that period, General Başbuğ mentioned about building a naval base in Trabzon, during his visit to this town.

The idea of establishing a naval presence in Trabzon was first discussed in public in March 2009. According to YeniÇağ newspaper General Başbuğ mentioned the increasing importance of Trabzon harbor and the need of establishing a permanent naval presence in this town. Nothing about this subject was discussed since in public.

The visit of The BlackSeaFor to Trabzon could be just another step into creating Trabzon as the next naval base in the Black Sea.

Following ships are taking part to this activation of BlackSeaFor:

Pennant
Ship
Type
Country
F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
63 BGS Priboy Minesweeper Bulgaria
264 ROS E. Sebastian Corvette Romania
158 RFS Tsezar Kunikovl Landing Ship Russia
U-311 UPS Cherkasy Minesweeper Ukraine
Bosphorus Naval News

August 2011 Activation of BlackSeaFor

The August activation of the BlackSeaFor fleet has started on 12th August 2011. On 13th August 2011 the command of the BlackSeafor will pass from Romania to Russia. For this occasion there will be a ceremony in Novoroski harbor where the BlackSeaFor fleet currently is.

 The August 2011 activation of BlackSeaFor will continue till 29 August 2011. During this time the ships will spend 14 days on ports visits on 6 days on cruise. Trabzon, Turkey, Novoroski, Russia and Varna, Bulgaria are the ports of call.

 During this activation period the Blackseafor ships will

  • test newly prepared concepts for  peace support operations, NBC defense, and the rules of engagement
  • conduct sea keeping and ship handling, tactical maneuvering and communications training
  • execute a search and rescue training
  • visit ports of The Black Sea to consolidate friendship between nations and navies.

Following ships are taking part:

Pennant
Ship
Type
Country
F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
63 BGS Priboy Minesweeper Bulgaria
264 ROS E. Sebastian Corvette Romania
158 RFS Tsezar Kunikovl Landing Ship Russia
U-311 UPS Cherkasy Minesweeper Ukraine
Bosphorus Naval News

Turkish Warships In Sevastopol

A-577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa

The two training ships of the Turkish Navy A-577  TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa and A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa have ended their 3 day visit to Sevastopol today.

The ships are on an annual training cruise for the cadets of Turkish Naval academy.

According to Ukrainan Defence Ministry, the commanders of Turkish warships visited the Ukrainian Navy Headquarters, where they met with Deputy Chief of Staff Armed Forces of Ukraine Navy Captain 1 Rank Sergey Hajduk

The parties discussed further cooperation navies of both countries, in particular, aspects of joint participation in the annual activation group the Black Sea Naval Cooperation “Blackseafor”.

Ten Years of BlackSeaFor: A Partial Assessment

Dr. Dmitry Gorenburg of Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies has kindly accepted by request to write his opinion on BlackSeaFor. You can read his insightful opinions on Russian military at his blog http://russiamil.wordpress.com/. As I was out for IDEF 2011, I am late for one day publishing it. Enjoy reading.

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This spring marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of BlackSeaFor, which was set up back in 2001 in order to enhance peace and stability in the Black Sea region, improve relations among the Black Sea littoral states and increase regional cooperation. To further this mission, BlackSeaFor conducts biannual naval exercises that include ships from all six of the Black Sea littoral states (Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria). The tasks performed during these exercises have varied over the years, but usually include some combination of search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, mine counter measures, CBRN defense and peace support operations. The concrete goal of the exercises is to promote naval interoperability among the participating countries.

During exercises and operations, BlackSeaFor is composed of 4-6 ships (usually one from each state), including one ship that acts as the command and control ship for the mission. There is no regular participation from air or army services. Units allocated to the force remain at their permanent home base locations and come together for exercises and training activities in accordance with jointly prepared programs. The member states retain full command of their ships. Therefore, ships may be withdrawn for national purposes at any time, provided that the other member states are informed. BlackSeaFor is under the operational command of the Black Sea Naval Commanders Committee, which is responsible for the overall planning of all BlackSeaFor activities. Tactical command rests with its commander, normally appointed for a period of one year.

BlackSeaFor has played an important role in increasing interaction among the Black Sea littoral states’ navies. However, its operations and exercises have generally been limited to a fairly basic level, both because of the limited tasks delineated in the political agreement on the force and because of the poor condition of most of the member states’ naval forces. While the member states decided to add counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling operations to the list of BlackSeaFor tasks back in 2005, the poor condition and lack of experience of most of the Black Sea navies has limited their ability to carry out such operations effectively.

These limitations have meant that the military commanders in the participating countries have had somewhat varying views on the program’s usefulness. Under Yushchenko’s presidency, Ukraine’s military saw the expansion of BlackSeaFor to include counter-terrorism tasks as a way of developing NATO interoperability through the back door, essentially by using exercises and operations with the Turkish Navy as a bridge to NATO. While I haven’t seen any direct discussion of this, I imagine that under Yanukovich, the emphasis has shifted away from the NATO focus toward a greater emphasis on regional initiatives.

Romania has traditionally been less willing to emphasize BlackSeaFor participation, with its navy arguing that it does not adequately reinforce NATO interoperability training because of the diversity of nations involved and the Ministry of Defense fearing that Russia and Turkey might seek to use BlackSeaFor to close off the Black Sea to foreign naval presence. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense has been more favorable to BlackSeaFor and was supportive of the effort to transform it into the main counter-terrorism organization in the Black Sea.

Russia and Turkey have been the driving forces behind BlackSeaFor since its founding. Both states find it a useful venue for enhancing their bilateral relationship and prefer it to other potential naval cooperation options because it is closed to participation by navies from outside the Black Sea region. Several years ago, they sought to turn the initiative into the main counter-terrorism forum in the Black Sea. While this effort succeeded in having counter-terrorism added to the list of BlackSeaFor’s tasks, it had little practical impact on improving the participating states’ maritime counter-terrorism capabilities.

The overall impact of BlackSeaFor on regional security is also limited by its relatively short duration. On average, each activation lasts for about 20 days, which means that the task force is inactive for about 320 days a year. Most of the region’s navies do not conduct regular anti-smuggling and counter-terrorism operations in the Black Sea outside of the BlackSeaFor activations. Potential terrorists and smugglers thus merely have to make sure that their activities take place outside of the scheduled BlackSeaFor activations. Turkey’s Black Sea Harmony operation is an exception here and is likely far more useful operationally for deterring smuggling and other illegal activity in the Black Sea.

At the same time, BlackSeaFor has been useful an important role in promoting security in the Black Sea region. It is an important venue for security discussions among states that otherwise have few opportunities to meet to discuss security issues. Most significantly, it has provided a venue for the gradual reincorporation of Georgia into regional security discussions and structures. After absenting itself from participation for five years, Georgia gradually returned to BlackSeaFor over the last year. This began with the participation of two staff officers in the April 2010 activation. This year, Georgia actually sent a ship for the first time since April 2006. BlackSeaFor thus becomes the only venue where Russian and Georgian military units have to communicate and work together. This can only be seen as a positive step for long-term regional security and understanding.

Thus, while I am somewhat skeptical of the military contribution of BlackSeaFor to regional security, I think it does have significant value for promoting communication and cooperation among the diverse set of states that make up the Black Sea region. Hopefully the next decade of its functioning will lead to a measurable increase in effectiveness and consequent improvements in regional security.

The April Activation Of BlackSeaFor Has Ended

Today, on 26 April 2011, the April 2011 activation of the BlackSeaFor has ended.

The task force of following ships, left Russian port Novorossiysk after a 3 day visit and returned to their home ports.

Pennant
Ship
Type
Country
F-240 TCG Yavuz Frigate Turkey
F-42 BGS Verni Frigate Bulgaria
P-24 GCG Sokhumi Patrol Boat Georgia
F-111 ROS Marasesti Frigate Romania
156 RFS Yamal Landing Ship Russia
U-510 UPS Slavutich Command Ship Ukraine
Bosphorus Naval News

This activation, started on 5 April 2011, in Istanbul. As this is the 10th anniversary of the foundation of BlackSeaFor it was celebrated with free public concerts of naval bands and a naval parade in Istanbul.

The ships of the BlackSeaFor visited Sevastopol and Novorossiysk after leaving Istanbul and heading to the Black Sea. The BlackSeaFor ships took part in a joint exercise with Turkish Navy.

For photos of the naval parade on 8 April 2011 click here.

BlackSeaFor Fleet in Sevastopol

The BlackSeaFor fleet arrived at the Ukrainian port Sevastopol for a port visit.  After spending 5 days in Istanbul with festivities to celebrate the 10. anniversary of the BlackSeaFor, the fleet then moved to the Black Sea.

En route from Istanbul to Sevastopol, the BLACKSEAFOR ships had conducted several joint exercises. In particular, they worked out the issues of navigation control and the detection of suspicious vessels, search and rescue at sea, and joint maneuvers.

After a three-day stop in Sevastopol, the ships will leave for the port of Novorossiysk, Russia.

The ships will be open for visit.

The Commander of Ukrainian Navy Admiral Viktor Maksimov, welcomed the BlackSeaFor and  noted with satisfaction that such meetings has increased

I am very pleased that the Black Sea region has such an agreement, and activation occur operative connection. I think that “Blackseafor” should continue, perhaps some of the elements necessary to build, in particular, more attention to the search and rescue aspect. I am sure we will constantly improve our cooperation, which will be useful and interesting for all member countries of the Agreement, – the Admiral Viktor Maksimov.

(Google translation)

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