The SNMG-2 Is Back In Istanbul

The flagship of the SNMG-2 HMNLS Eversten in Istanbul.

Turkish contribution to SNMG-2, TCG Yıldırım in Istanbul after sailing the Black Sea for 21 days.

On 29 March four ships of NATO Standing Maritime Force 2 transited northbound through Turkish Straits and entered the Black Sea.

This was the start of the task force’s first Black Sea deployment in 2019.

The French National Marine contribution to the SNMG-2 FS Var also arrived in Istanbul but she did not proceed to the Black Sea with the rest of the group. She remained in the city for a 4-day port visit and later returned to France as her deployment with the task force was over.

Once in the Black Sea Bulgarian frigate, Drazki and Romanian frigate Regele Ferdinand joined the task force before SNMG-2 split in two.

The Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto and the Spanish frigate ESPS Santa Maria sailed to Odessa, Ukraine. According to NATO press release, while in Odesa, the ship captains meet with local military and elected officials, worked with Ukrainian Navy personnel and welcomed local Ukrainian civilians aboard during scheduled open ship periods.

The Canadian and Spanish frigates conducted PASSEX with Ukrainian Matka class (Project 206 MP) corvette Priluki. This exercise was dutifully observed by the Russian intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs.

Turkish town Trabzon was the first stop for the remaining four ships of the task force namely HMNLS Eversten the flagship, TCG Yıldırım, BGS Drazki, and ROS Regele Ferdinand. Following a short 3-day visit, they have sailed to Poti Georgia. Like in Ukraine, following the visit to Poti, SNMG-2 ships conducted a Passing Exercise with the Georgian Coast Guard vessels.

The task force joined in Romanian port Constanta prior to the start of the largest multinational naval exercise in Romania’s territorial waters and in the international waters of the Black Sea: Sea Shield 2019. The Spanish frigate left the taskforce and exited the Black Sea before the task force’s arrival in Romania.

In addition to the ships of SNMG-2, the Greek fast attack craft HS Ritsos, Bulgarian corvette BGS Bodri, and Romanian frigate ROS Marasesti, corvettes ROS Contraamiral Macellariu, ROS Contraamiral Horia Macellariu, missile-carrying fast attack craft ROS Pescarusul, ROS Zborul, minesweepers ROS Lieutenant Lupu Dinescu, ROS Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu also took part, along with Romanian detachment of EOD divers, two mobile anti-ship missile launchers and other support units.

According to the Romanian Defence Ministry approximately 2,200 troops, took part in the exercise who practiced against underwater, surface and air threats, adapted to the typology of security threats in the Black Sea region. The scenario of the exercise was fictional and aimed planning and execution of crisis response operations under the mandate of Security Council resolutions of the United Nations (UNSC), in the context of a security environment characterized by symmetrical and asymmetrical threats.

SNMG-2 exited the Black Sea on 17th April and arrived in Istanbul for a well-deserved port visit. HMNLS Eversten and TCG Yıldırım berthed while HMCS Toronto sailed to the Mediterranean without stopping in the city.

French replenishment tanker FS Var. She arrived in Istanbul with the rest of the task force but did not enter the Black Sea.

Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto. This photo was taken when she was passing through Istanbul. She spent 21 days in the Black Sea and left it sailing directly to the Mediterranean.

This is Spanish frigate ESPS Santa Maria passing northbound through Istanbul. She stayed only 7 days in the Black Sea before exiting it while the rest took part in the Sea Shield naval exercise.

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NATO Naval Taskforces End Their Deployment To The Black Sea

The flagship of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two FGR Rhein, during her southbound transit through Istyanbul.

Turkish contribution to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two, TCG Anamur making her southbound passage through Istanbul as the taskforce departs from the Black Sea. A new minehunter will replace her for the future deployment of SNMCMG-2.

On early July, flagships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein arrived in Bulgarian port Burgas for the Bulgarian led exercise Breeze 2018. Replenishment ship FS Marne of Marine Nationale and Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos followed them. BREEZE 2018 from 13 to 20 July.

The exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability of the participating units and strengthen cooperation by practicing different warfare techniques in a multi-dimensional scenario. Multinational participating forces and their crews will be tested in a wide range of warfare tactics focusing on regional security.

Bulgaria as host took part with 16 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 2 helicopters and staff of 930 members. Two aircraft of the Bulgarian Air Force and units of the Land Forces were also involved in the exercise with most ships. Turkey was the second largest contributor to the exercise with TCG Fatih for SNMG-2 and minehunter TCG Anamur for SNMCMG-2, submarine TCG Gür, fast attack craft TCG İmbat and one patrol plane.

In total 25 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 1 submarine, 4 aircraft, 5 helicopters and 2,340 service members from the navies of Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the USA, Turkey, France, the Netherlands took part in the exercise, which was held from 13th to 20th July.

Following the conclusion of the exercise Sea Breeze Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos and French replenishment tanker, FS Marne exited the region while the remaining ships of both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

After the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and warships BerdyanskVyshgorod, Kremenchuk, Lubny, and Pochaiv also took part in this PASSEX.

Upon leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

On the first day of August 2018, both HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein departed from the Black Sea ending their deployment in the region.

NATO Task Forces Arrive In Bulgarian Ports

Romanian frigate ROS Regele Ferdinand (left) and Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep (right). The mast of the HMS Duncan is visible at the background. Photo: BTA

After meeting up in Constanta, Romania last week, the both UK led NATO maritime task forces  SNMG-2 and SNMCMG-2 have arrived in Bulgaria.

The mine countermeasure warfare task force made a port call in Burgas while the naval task force arrived in Varna.

Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group Two (SNMCMG2), under the command of Royal Navy Commander Justin Hains, will depart from Burgas on 11th February. The task group consists of the Romanian minesweeper ROS Lupu Dinescu, Turkish mine hunter M-270 TCG Akçay and  H-88 HMS Enterprise the flagship of the task force.

Standing NATO Group Two (SNMG2), under the command of Royal Navy Commodore Mike Utley OBE, will depart from Varna on 11th February. The task group consists of the Romanian frigate F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand, Turkish frigate F-490 TCG Gaziantep and D-37 HMS Duncan the flagship of the task force.

Bulgarian Naval Exercise Breeze 2017 Has Started

Super Vita class fast attack craft, HS Anthypoploiarchos Ritsos passed through Turkish Straits to participate in Breeze 2017 naval exercise.

Naming of military operations and exercises has always been a controversial topic. So it does not help much when Bulgaria names the naval exercise as Breeze when there is Ukrainian – USA joint exercise called Sea Breeze. It is not easy to distinguish between them two. The timing of these exercises makes it even more difficult.

Breeze 2017 is the Bulgarian exercise. The warships participating to this exercise have gathered in Varna.The exercise started on 14 July 2017 and will end on 23 July.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop cooperation and interoperability by performing actual maritime training among the multinational forces in the Black Sea. Besides the host, Turkey, USA, England, Italy, Poland, Romania and Greece are participating After Bulgaria, Turkey has the second largest number of units taking part in the exercise.

Here is the list of the participants as far as I could find:

Number Name Type Nationality
S-343 TCG Preveze Submarine Turkey
P-330 TCG Kılıç Fast attack craft Turkey
P-1214 TCG Karadeniz Ereğli Patrol boat Turkey
F-241 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
D-37 HMS Duncan Destroyer UK
P-71 HS Anthypoploiarchos Ritsos Fast attack craft Greece

Turkish Navy Conducting Simultaneous Port Visits In 5 Countries

TCG Oruçreis arrives in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev.

10 Turkish warships are conducting port visits in 5 different ports, in 5 different countries.

The long needed rest came after the end of the first phase of naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2017. The exercise has started on 27 March and will end on 7 April.

Of course the small size of the Black Sea helps. But Turkey is the only Black Sea nation that can perform such a diplomatic show of force. It is not a small event to do port visits in 5 different nations at the same time.

This is the list of the ships doing port visits. Most of them  will be open for public to visit.

Name Type Port Country
TCG Oruçreis Frigate Varna Bulgaria
TCG Tuzla Patrol Boat Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kalkan Fast Attack Craft Batumi Georgia
TCG Yıldırım Frigate Batumi Georgia
TCG Turgutreis Frigate Constanta Romania
TCG Yıldız Fast Attack Craft Constanta Romania
TCG Büyükada Corvette Novorossiysk Russia
TCG Barbaros Frigate Novorossiysk Russia
TCG Heybeliada Corvette Odessa Ukraine
TCG Gaziantep Frigate Odessa Ukraine

Port Visits of Turkish Warships During The Weekend

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TCG Salihreis arriving in Varna, Bulgaria. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev.

The Deniz Yıldızı 2016 naval exercise continues in Black Sea. According to Turkish General Staff, 25 warships and submarine plus 11 aircraft and helicopter takes part in the exercise.

As reported earlier, over the weekend the ships conducted port visits in many cities both in country and abroad. Here is the list of the ships and the ports they have visited during the weekend:

Name Type City Country
TCG Karayel Fast attack craft Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kemalreis Frigate Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kilimli Patrol boat Varna Bulgaria
TCG Yavuz Frigate Batumi Georgia
TCG Heybeliada Corvette Constanta Romania
TCG Kılıç Fast attack craft Constanta Romania
TCG Giresun Frigate Constanta Romania
TCG Ayvalık Mine hunter Amasra Turkey
TCG Yüzbaşı İhsan Tulunay Auxiliary İnebolu Turkey
TCG İmbat Fast attack craft İnebolu Turkey
TCG Turgutreis Frigate İnebolu Turkey
TCG Karadeniz Ereğli Patrol boat Kefken Turkey
TCG Akar Auxiliary Samsun Turkey
TCG Tufan Fast attack craft Samsun Turkey
TCG Barbaros Frigate Samsun Turkey
TCG Ertuğrul Landing ship Samsun Turkey
TCG Büyükada Corvette Sinop Turkey
TCG Göksu Frigate Zonguldak Turkey
TCG Bartın Corvette Odessa Ukraine
TCG Salihreis Frigate Odessa Ukraine

Bulgaria Plans To Buy 2 New Warships In 6 Years Time

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Bulgarian frigate Verni. She is nearing her obsolescence. Here is a photo of her from 5 years ago

According to Sofia News Agency, Bulgarian defence minister Nikolay Nenchev announced that Bulgaria was planing to spend up to $477.80 million to procure two multi purpose warships.

The procurement cost, which comprises armaments, equipment and communication systems for the ships, could be one-third lower if the vessels were built in Bulgaria, Nenchev said during a visit to the Black Sea city of Varna on Thursday, according to a statement of the Defence Ministry.

“Within three-and-a half to six years the Navy will have two completed vessels,” Nenchev said.
The project will be submitted to Parliament in the next few days and the lawmakers are expected to approve it by the end of May, Nenchev added.
Preliminary talks have already been held with EU and NATO member states about potential acquisition of patrol ships, according to the statement.

It is the high time for Bulgaria to invest in new warships to protect her interests in the Black Sea.

The Bulgarian Navy has terminated its submarine service after 94 years and decommissioned her sole submarine in 2011. The 3 Wielingen class frigates and one Tripartite class mine hunter all bought from Belgium are the only new warships commissioned into naval service since the end of the Cold War. Thus around the year 2022 when the above mentioned two new warships are commissioned, the 3 Wielingen frigates Drazki, Verni and Gordi will be almost 45 years old.

I do not think Turkey’s burgeoning naval ship building industry despite its close geographical location will have much chance to win the bid for these ships. French, Dutch or German companies may have an advantage here.

SNMG-2 Arrives In Varna

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Bulgarian frigate BNS Drazki, in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton arriving to Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Turkish frigate TCG Turgutreis arriving to Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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German tanker FGS Spessart in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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Italian frigate ITS Alieso in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

The ships assigned to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG-2) arrived to-day to the Bulgarian port Varna. There is a very strong north wind in the Black Sea throughout the weekend and I think the sailors are happy to be in a port in this weather. According to the excellent Bulgarian blog SeaDog, the flagship of the task force USS Vicksburg did not enter the harbor due to strong winds. She is expected to arrive on 8 March 2015.

“Our Sailors are excited to visit Varna and to interact with the people who represent this city and nation,” said Rear Admiral Williamson. “More importantly, we are looking forward to getting back underway and training with the professional mariners of the Bulgarian Navy.”

During the port visit, SNMG2 leadership will meet with local Bulgarian authorities and Navy officials to discuss numerous issues of shared importance, to include exercises in the Black Sea.

SNMG2 is in the Black Sea as part of a regularly scheduled deployment to the region to assure NATO Allies of the Alliance’s commitment to collective defense. During the deployment, SNMG2 ships are training with ships from the Bulgarian, Romanian and Turkish Navies.

According to Russian websites the first two ship of the task force to enter the Black Sea USS Vicksburg and TCG Turgutreis were greeted by Russian Su-24 and Su-30 warplanes.

Status Update on Russian Warships In The Black Sea

Perekop

Russian training ship Perekop making a northbound passage through Bosphorus in July 2013.

 

The informative and excellent Ukrainian website Black Sea New reported that the Russian training ship Perekop is being repaired in Varna Naval shipyard.

Training ship of the 1st rank “Perekop” (200) complete repairs on the Bulgarian shipyard “Naval Arsenal” (Varna) in July 2015, reports Flot.com . At present, Russian designers are beginning to test samples of hull structures and cables to determine the remaining life of the ship.
As reported BSNews , “Perekop” (200) arrived in Varna 20 August 2013.

Mooring factory testing of the Criminal Code “Perekop” 877 project is expected to begin in the summer of 2015. This information is placed in the record of procurement “51 Central Design and Technological Institute of ship repair” the Defense Ministry, establish the technical documentation for the repair and modernization of the ship.”

In the mean time the Krivak class frigate Ladny, made a post repair acceptance sail.

“Patrol ship “Well,” returned to base in Sevastopol with its maiden voyage after repairs to the “13 ship-repair factory of the Black Sea Fleet.”
Sources Central Navy Portal on the Black Sea Fleet told that TFR “OK” in the morning of December 17, 2014 from 12 mooring berth of Sevastopol and went on his first outing in the sea after the repair.
Head of Press Service of the Black Sea Fleet, Vyacheslav Trukhachev confirmed that the plan “OK” has already had to start the combat training missions.
The base ship returned on 19 December. Thus, the campaign ship lasted 1.5 days. TSVMP learned that for many sailors the access to the sea was the first. “Well,” made ​​a trip along the Crimean coast line, in which the sailors worked actions during various alarms and got acquainted with the equipment of the ship. In 2013 – 2014 years in the “13 ship-repair Factory Black Sea Fleet “was held in Sevastopol ship repair, which was completed in the summer of 2014.”

SNMG-2 Arrives In Varna

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HMCS Toronto entering into Varna harbour. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

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ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon arriving in Varna harbour.  Photo: Nikolay Zlatev. Used with permission.

Task Unit 2 of SNMG-2 consisting of F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate FHH-333 HMCS Toronto arrived in Varna Bulgaria today.

Led by Commander Jason Armstrong (Royal Canadian Navy), SNMG2 TU.02 is currently composed of HMCS TORONTO (Royal Canadian Navy) and AMIRALTE JUAN de BORBON (Spanish Navy).  SNMG2 is visiting the port as part of the Group’s deployment to the Black Sea to enhance maritime security and NATO’s readiness in the region.

“This visit has been planned for quite some time, and in light of current events it; has become all the more significant,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, Commander SNMG2 TU.02. “We are delighted to come and train together, eager to enhance our mutual understanding, and eager to bring a strong message to Bulgarian people and to all Allied Nations regarding NATO’s resolve and commitment to collective defence.

Constanta, Romania was the Task Force’s previous port of call.

On 16 September 2014, under the banner of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) Task Unit 02 (TU02), HMCS TORONTO, ESPS ALMIRANTE JUAN DE BORBON and ROS REGELE FERNIDAND have completed their 4 day visit to Constanta, Romania. The port visit served to reaffirm the Alliance’s commitment to maritime defence and security and reassure Black Sea NATO Allies.

“Our ships were honoured and humbled to be a part of NATO’s maritime visit to the historic city as Constanta, Romania,” said Commander Jason Armstrong, Commanding Officer of HMCS TORONTO and Commander of SNMG2 Task Unit 02 (SNMG2 TU02). “Our presence here serves to reaffirm NATO’s strong support and commitment to Alliance solidarity.”

Visit the excellent blog Sea Dog for more photos from SNMG-2.

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