First Damen SAR 1906 Boat Is Getting Ready For The Service

In November 2016, Dutch shipyard Damen has signed a contract with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ankara, Turkey for the supply of six, search and rescue (SAR) vessels for delivery in 2017.

The boats are designed for SAR operations in all-weather and can self right within seconds after a capsize or even a 360° roll. The 19 meter long boat, has a maximum speed of 31 knots and can carry up to 120 survivors.

The six boats will be built by Damen’s Turkish Shipyard in Antalya. The first two boats are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2017 and the deliveries will be finished by the end of 2017.

These will be the first Damen built boats for Turkish Coast Guard. And these boats are going to be the first dedicated and purpose designed search and rescue vessels of Turkish Coast Guard. Damen was not a supplier for Turkish Coast Guard. The fact that the contract was financed by EU funds must have helped the Dutch company. Turkish Coast Guard usually prefers local shipyards and local designs.

Below is a video of the self righting test of the first boat courtesy of Mr. Murat Güçlü.

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Turkish Coast Guard To Receive 6 Damen Vessels

sar_1906

A 3D-rendering of SAR Vessel 1906 by Damen Shipyards.

The Dutch shipyard, Damen has signed a contract with the International Organisation for Migration, for the supply of six, Search and Rescue (SAR) vessels for delivery in 2017. The boats are being financed by the European Union and will be operated by the Turkish Coast Guard, to support the refugees and migrants rescue operations, according to Defence Turkey Magazine.

The boats are designed for SAR operations in all-weather and can self right within seconds after a capsize or even a 360° roll. The 19 meter long boat, has a maximum speed of 31 knots and can carry up to 120 survivors.

The six boats will be built by Damen’s Turkish Shipyard in Antalya. The first two boats are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2017 and the deliveries will be finished by the end of 2017.

These will be the first Damen built boats for Turkish Coast Guard. And these boats are going to be the first dedicated and purpose designed search and rescue vessels of Turkish Coast Guard. Damen was not a supplier for Turkish Coast Guard. The fact that the contract was financed by EU funds must have helped the Dutch company. Turkish Coast Guard usually prefers local shipyards and local designs.

Greek Frigate HS Hydra Is Returning Home Early

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998. She is coming home early from the party.

While the families of the crew of the Greek frigate F-452 HS Hydra celebrate, her early return from Horn of Africa, this shows the dire fiscal situation the Greek armed forces are facing.

In early February, HS Hydra was send by Greek Navy to participate in the Operation Atalanta, the anti-piracy operation of EU off the coast of Somalia. She was supposed to operate in the area till 4th April, but she is returning to Greece at the moment, one month earlier than planned. She also will not take part in Atalanta during the second half of the year, according to the Greek Defense Ministry.

As, it costs  Greece 2.5 million euros a month to operate a frigate off the coast of Somalia, the early return and the cancellation of the second trip will save 7.5 million euros from the Greek tax payers money.

Two years ago Bulgarian Navy toyed with the idea of sending a frigate to Gulf of Aden to combat piracy but later they had to give up upon that idea as the Bulgarian Government was not able to create the necessary funding for the operation.

It is definitely not a cheap thing, to station a warship away from homeland for extended periods of time as both Greece and Bulgaria learned by the hard way.

 

 

 

Greece Sends A Frigate To EUNAVFOR

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998.

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998.

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998.

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998

HS Hydra in Bosphorus. An old photo from 1998

The Greek Navy deployed the MEKO 200HN class frigate F-452 HS Hydra for the European Union Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta. She has arrived to her Area of Operation two days ago.

Following passage south through the Red Sea, the HS HYDRA will join the multi-national EU NAVFOR off the Horn of Africa on 4 February 2012.

HS HYDRA is a MEKO 200HN type multiple role frigate which has been in the service of the Hellenic Navy since March 1992. She has a displacement of 3,350 tons, a crew of 189 and carries an SH-70 Sea Hawk helicopter.

The Greek ship joins EU NAVFOR to protect merchant vessels carrying humanitarian aid of the World Food Program, other vulnerable ships in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean as well as operations to deter and disrupt piracy while monitoring fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.

>NATO’s Missile Shield And Turkey – Part I

>If the headlines of newspapers can be a reliable indicator, then there is a lot of closed door arm wrestling between Turkey and NATO/USA.

The reason for this diplomatic activity is the new missile shield NATO intents to adopt as part of the alliance’s overall mission.

From: Economist – Sep 24, 2009

The originator of the ballistic missile defense system is USA. The idea evolved from Reagan administration’s Star Wars project to its current form. The missile defense system was readmitted to public discussion by George W. Bush administration. The plan devised during President G.W. Bush foresaw that 10 ballistic missile interceptors would be stationed Poland and a X-band tracking radar system would be established in Czech Republic so that these can engage any ballistic missile coming from east. It was primary a guarantee for the new NATO members of the old communist block against Russia. That plan immediately draw backfire mainly from Russia and did not gained any support from major European NATO allies. Countries like Germany, France or UK do not want to jeopardize their trade relations with Russia over ballistic missile defense system and they do no longer feel threatened by Russian nuclear weapons.

The Obama administration took the Bush’s plan and brilliantly twisted in two ways. The first twist was to replace Russia with Iran as the main adversary against whom this missile shield is being established. The second twist was to change the land based sensors and weapon systems with sea based ones.

The first twist is actually nothing more than a statement of the obvious. The burgeoning ballistics missile force and construction capabilities of Iran are not welcomed in USA. And it makes the whole concept of the missile shield easier to sell across the Europe where Islam-phobia is on a steady rise since September 2001.

The second twist replaced the land based systems with the US Navy’s existing and combat proven AEGIS weapon system. The AEGIS equipped ships do carry the necessary sensors, C4I systems and the weapons needed to detect, track and intercept ballistic missiles on their own hulls. Plus they can be deployed anywhere on the world as long as it is accessible by sea. That is %70 of the world.

The public debate that is going on in Turkey about the proposed missile shield has started too late and unfortunately the debaters have not much knowledge about the technical issues of the missile shield systems. Therefore they are discussing about political and diplomatic aspects of the proposal. Turkey’s geographical and current Turkish administration’s political proximity to Iran makes these debates inevitable. And such debates about the position of Turkey on a proposal against Iran are not limited to Turkey either.

There has not been any leakage about the closed doors discussion between Turkey and NATO or Between Turkey and USA. But I see thee important discussion points:

  1. Establishment of an early warning and tracking radar in Turkey
  2. Fielding of land based ballistic missile interceptors in Turkey
  3. Keeping US warships in the Black Sea longer than Montreux Convention permits.

From:  The Washington Post – August 1, 2010

The proposed missile shield needs a tracking and detection radar close to Iranian border to provide and early warning for the system. According to analysis and studies made by US Missile Defense Agency Turkey among Georgia and Azerbaijan is one of the most obvious and suitable locations. Theoretically a radar site should not create much headache for Turkey about its relations with Iran. Turkey hosted many radar and surveillance sites for USA and NATO against Soviet Union such as Pirinçlik and Sinop.

More problematic would be fielding of land based interceptors. The proposed site for these missiles is Incirlik Airbase just outside of Adana. Land based ballistic missile interceptors are needed to ensure that a seamless and total coverage against Iranian missiles is available for whole NATO territory. As they would be actual weapons to be used against among other Iran’s ballistic missiles they would create a political and diplomatic rift between Turkey and Iran.

Keeping US warships in the Black Sea, longer than the Montreux Convention permits is no less unpleasing for Turkey than basing of interceptor missiles. The Montreux Convention signed in 1936, forbids warships of non-Black Sea nations, to remain in the Black Sea for more than 21 days at a time. If AEGIS equipped US warships should be stationed in Black Sea the Montreux clearly stands in the way. And any attempt to change the Montreux Convention would not only be opposed by Turkey but by Russia as well.

I will write my opinion about stationing land based interceptors and AEGIS based warships in the Black Sea in detail. 

For further reading:
Turkey’s Tough Ballistic Choices
Turkey in Dilemma Over NATO Shield
New missile defences in Europe
Rasmussen In Poland: Expeditionary NATO, Missile Shield And Nuclear Weapons
Turkey conditionally approves NATO missile shield
Ankara-Washington Differences Could Disrupt NATO Missile Shield Plans
NATO near adoption of U.S. missile shield
U.S. nears key step in European defense shield against Iranian missiles
Washington: No Turkish refusal of missile shield plans
Fact Sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy A “Phased, Adaptive Approach” for Missile Defense in Europe
Options for Deploying Missile Defenses in Europe

>Bulgaria Is NOT Sending A Warship To Somalia…

>Bulgaria is not sending a warship to Somalia. And this time this decisions seems to be definitive. So end of the stroy.

According to Bulgarian news portal novinite.com, Bulgaria Defense Minister Nikolay Mladenov has stated that the  41 Drazki” (Intrepid) frigate will not be sent to the Gulf of Aden to participate in operations against Somali pirates due to a lack of money.

It is just like the song says: You ain’t got no money you just ain’t no good.

H/T: SeaWaves Magazine

>Bulgaria Is Intending To Send A Warship To Somalia

>I guess, I was a little bit zealous yesterday when I wrote about Bulgarian contribution to the fight against piracy.

At the moment is not clear whether a Bulgarian warship will be sent to the Gulf of Aden or not. Apparently the intent is here but the funding is yet to be found.

According to Rear Admiral Plamen Manoushev, the Bulgarian Navy is contemplating deploying the Druzki (Daring) frigate to the Gulf of Aden in an attempt to boost the international task force currently entrusted with keeping international waters free from pirate attacks.

“We made an assessment of the situation. If the frigate is deployed for a two-month period, then one month of that time would be taken up with the round trip to the Gulf while, for the other month, she would be on active patrol service. This could cost up to six million leva,” he was quoted as saying.

“The issue is the availability of necessary financial resources, and not the readiness of personnel,” the Rear Admiral said.

I do not know the USD value of six million leva on today’s exchange rates but I am ready to bet that is less than what the owners of the UK-flagged ship, Asian Glory, with Bulgarian crew members on board will be paying as ransom.


Sending the Wielingen class frigate 41 Druzki is a better choice that previously reported Smeli. 41 Druzki (ex-BNS Wandelaar), the first frigate Bulgaria has bought, was handed over to the Bulgarian Navy in October 2005.

The photo shows another Wielingen class, frigate 43 Gordi passing through Bosphorus on her maiden journey to Bulgaria.

Druzki is newer, has better communication facilities and better sea keeping performance. More importantly she looks more comfortable on a long voyage. On the other hand Wielingen class frigates lack helicopter capability which is important because helicopters play a pivotal role in rushing to the scene in an emergency.

In many cases the early arrival of armed helicopters prevented pirates to climb up to the merchant ship and capture it. As Bulgarian Navy does not have any ships with helicopter capability, Bulgaria’s their contributions in Gulf of Aden might be limited than other nations.

>Bulgaria Is Sending A Warship To Somalia

>

Bulgaria will send a warship to Gulf of Aden according to Turkish maritime portal denizhaber.com.tr

The Koni class (Project 1159) frigate 11 Smeli (Valiant) will join the naval task forces combating piracy off the coast of Somalia. At the moment it is not clear whether the Bulgarian warship will join EU led Operation Atalanta or US led CTF-151.

I am quite surprised to see that an old ship such as Smeli will be send to the Indian Ocean instead of the newer Wielingen class frigates Drazki, Gordi or Verni. Smeli seems to have more life in her or the newer frigates are too valuable to be send for this mission.

Any additional information about her departure and her crossing the Turkish Straits is appreciated.

>M/V Karagöl and suspicious approach (Updated)

>One should always beware of early reports and rumors these days. Especially if they have been originated on the web.

Last week I found and posted a report about a failed pirate attack against a ship of Yasa shipping company. One ship belonging to this company was hijacked in October and was released in late December. The report turned out to be false.

Therefore I am handling the latest news, from a Turkish daily about a failed attack on Karagöl on 19February 2009, which was captured by Somalian pirates on 12 November 2008 and was released on on 13 January 2009, with extreme caution.

But there’s no smoke without fire. According to the Turkish maritime portal Denizhaber.com the commander of EU-led Operation Atalanta, Comodore Antonios Papaionnaou made a curtesy visit to Karagöl on 20 February 2009 when the tanker was in a convoy protected by Operation Atalanta ships.

At least I have proof for the visit:

UPDATE:
After publishing this story I have received an e-mail from a source close to merchant shipping who wants to remain anonymous.

Apparently Karagöl was in a convoy under the protection of Greek frigate F-454 Psara.

Underway at an yet unknown location Karagöl sighted a dhow and two skiffs. The two skiffs headed for Karagöl and the master alerted the warship. When the warship arrived, the skiffs changed course.

The approach of the skiffs and the dhow could have been a pretext for an attack. Or it was just a coincidence. One can easily understand the anxiety of the master of Karagöl.

We should also mind that there is a a tendency for some of the involved navies to publicly report every little incident as an averted attack due to PR reasons. Otherwise they have difficulties to explain the tax payers why their warships are in the Gulf of Aden.

>Turkey to join Operation Atalanta?

>On 16th December 2008 F-496 TCG Gökova returned to her homeport Gölcük. She has spent 7 weeks south of Suez as part of SNMG-2 and took part in the Operation Allied Provider. She has escorted ships of WFP through pirate infested waters and helped other ships by deterring possible pirate attacks.

When I have started this blog I was aware about the piracy problem but I did not imagined that I would write about it that much. Apparently I was wrong. Interestingly this problem will remain on the focus in the foreseeable future and not just because of three hijacked merchant ships.

On 8th December EU Council adopted a decision on the launch of a European Union military operation in order to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast. For the next 12 months nations of EU will provide military personal and hardware so that, up to 6 frigates and 3 maritime patrol aircrafts will be present at any time.

Turkey is a NATO member country. Thus it was logical and natural for a Turkish warship to sail to Somalia as part of NATO taskforce. But Turkey in a not a member of EU and thus a Turkish warship is not a natural part of an EU naval force.

But this may change. According to Turkish daily Akşam, Turkish General Staff is making advanced preparations and plans to participate at the Operation Atalanta but it wishes to take active role in the command and control mechanism. And according to daily Zaman, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials have been in constant contact with the EU concerning Turkey’s participation in Operation Atalanta.

Integration of Turkish military assets into an EU military operation is certainly not a easy act and there must be lots of mainly political and diplomatic hurdles to be overcome. Military integration would be the easier part as most of the EU countries are also members of NATO. It would not a problem for Turkish naval assets to adopt to command, communication and operational standards of EU is these should differ from NATO standards.

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