An Epilogue To An Incident

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As I wrote this post on 31st December 2016 at 16.00 local time, the Turkish flagged vessel M/V Alcatras was still grounded in Lambi beach, Kos island.

But as you can see from the videos below some of her cargo was transferred to another Turkish flagged vessel and is gone back to Turkey.

A Prototype Of A Turkish Air Defence Gun System Is Aground On A Greek Island

alcatras

The above photo shows Aselsan’s naval version of Korkut air defence gun system. The below photo shows the grounded vessel Alcatras and her cargo. A is the 3D search radar. The shape of the radar and the neck of the mast is very distinct. B is the fire control radar on the turret. Though the turret is covered on the boat, the shape and the height is consistent with the uncovered turret. The arrow shows the direction of the barrels. The photo above is from Twitter user @TyrannosurusRex. The photo below is from The Toc.

I don’t know what to say. Should I call it a Greek tragedy or a Turkish comedy? A brand-new prototype of locally developed naval air defence system ended up, grounded on a Greek Island.

The whole episode started like many others. The Turkish flagged M/V Alcatras experienced a rudder failure as she was sailing from Tuzla, Istanbul to Antalya, according to the captain’s statement. Being unable to steer she run aground on Kos island at approximately 100 m from the beach of Lambi. Such incidents do happen in the Aegean Sea quite often.

M/V Alcatras is a 28 meters long vessels. She bears all the characteristics of a large Turkish fishing vessel designed to work on the seas around Turkey. But she is has no fishing gear installed. She is registered as a diving tender. The old photos of the vessel in Marine Traffic shows a typical working boat, with the superstructure in front and a large working area at aft.

When M/V Alcatras was grounded in Kos however she was loaded with what appears as two white containers for accommodation or for working and one green container. Furthermore she has one medium hight mast with a covered top and another structure also totally covered. This is the valuable cargo. The mast and the covered cargo have the distinct shape of the naval air defence gun system developed by Aselsan.

Aselsan has developed for Turkish Army a self propelled air defense gun system called Korkut. One Korkut unit consists one command and control vehicle with a 3D search radar (marked A on the photo above) and 3 gun vehicles, each fitted with a twin 35mm air defence gun and a fire control radar. The twin guns are Oerlikon GDF-002 units produced under licence by MKEKThe development of Korkut has recently reached the field testing phase and some vehicles were delivered to Turkish Army for this purpose.

The naval Korkut was loaded on M/V Alcatras in Istanbul and she was heading to Antalya. There are no naval construction facilities in Antalya. M/V Alcatras was not merely transporting the system from Tuzla to Antalya. It is safe to assume once in Antalya, the vessel was to conduct tests on the open sea. Hence there are containers on board too. The location of the turret proivdes a wide arc of fire from the side.

There were rumors that a navalised air defence gun system based on Korkut was also on development but there was no concrete evidence. First the photo of the prototype was published on Twitter. Later the news about the grounding of a Turkish vessel with a mysterious cargo was published. Now, we and our neighbours know that we have developed a prototype of such a system.

The Greek website OnAlert reported that the cargo of M/V Alcatras was transferred to another vessel to lighten up the around ship.

Since there is no official statements about the incident, there is a (though small) possibility that my story may turn out to be wrong. And I would like to thank Alper Böler for his carefull observation.

Can NATO Really Help With The Migrant Crisis In Aegean? (Part 2)

The year 2015 will be remembered by the horrendous stories of ordinary people who had to leave their homes, possessions, who had to made painful and dangerous voyages to reach Europe just to survive.
If you think the refuge crises was bad in 2015 it will be a lot worse in 2016.

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Numbers of irregular migrants rescued from the sea by Turkish Coast Guard in the frist two months of 2015  and 2016.

First the number of people trying to cross Aegean to go To Europe has increased dramatically. According to the statistics of Turkish Coast Guard number of refuges rescued from the sea in the first two months of 2016 is 14.378. This represents an almost 10 fold increase compared to same period in 2015.

Furthermore to make the things far more worse these numbers will climb higher as thousands of Syrians are running away from their demolished villages and towns because of the indiscriminate bombing of Russian Air Force on behalf of Syrian regime. The high water mark may still to come.

And European countries are not offering the even the lukewarm welcome they have given to the refuges in 2015. Existence of these immigrants are causing sever political tensions in most of the host countries. These tensions will have dire consequences for all political parties in the next election cycle.

Since Europe doesn’t want to harbour any more refugees it is trying to stop the influx by protecting its sea borders more efficiently.

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To hop across the Aegean is still the most convenient way to reach for Europe.

The Aegean Sea offers the most convenient router for the refugees. The close proximate of many Greek island to Turkish mainland makes it possible for thousands of refugees to reach to EU by entering Greece. The sea trip from Turkish mainland to Greek islands on overfilled and unstable RHIBs is often dangerous and deadly. %90 percent of 316 irregular immigration incidents in the first two months of 2016 have happened in Aegean according to Turkish Coast Guard.

Since early February, NATO, EU, Greece  and Turkey are trying to formulate plans how NATO’s assigned maritime task force SNMG-2 will perform its anti-immigration operation in the Aegean Sea.

This operation was conceived right after the German Chancellor Frau Merkel’s visit to Turkey in early February 2016.  Germany, Greece and Turkey proposed and in a record-breaking 3 days’ time NATO’s Foreign Ministers have approved the plan to commit SNMG-2 for this mission.

SNMG-2 currently consists of German Navy flagship FGS Bonn, Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredericton, Turkish Navy frigate TCG Barbaros and Greek Navy frigate HS Salamis. France and Great Britain have also disclosed that they are sending warships to reinforce the task force. The units are patrolling in the assigned areas and conducting reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance activities.

According to a press release from 6th March, the commanders of NATO have defined SNMG-2’s area of activity in close consultation and coordination with both Greece and Turkey. Their activities in territorial waters will be carried out in consultation and coordination with both Allies. The purpose of NATO’s deployment is not to stop or push back migrant boats, but to help our Allies Greece and Turkey, as well as the European Union, in their efforts to tackle human trafficking and the criminal networks that are fueling this crisis.

NATO’s Maritime Command has also agreed with FRONTEX on arrangements at the operational and tactical level. NATO and FRONTEX will be able to exchange liaison officers and share information in real time, to enable FRONTEX, as well as Greece and Turkey, to take action in real-time.

NATO has gained some knowledge by conducting anti piracy operations in Gulf of Aden and must have the knowledge to differentiate between the small plastic boats full of immigrants and ordinary fishermen. Thus they may apply the lessons they have learned in Gulf of Aden for a good use in Aegean. I have personally talked with a few sailors of Turkish Coast Guard operation in Aegean and they are suffering from various psychological symptoms as they fish day after day dead bodies mostly children and women from the sea. Thus presence of a NATO fleet might ease their burden.

But I still have my misgiving about the intentions of NATO’s mission and I am very sceptical about this whole thing because instead of draining the swamp Europe is trying to kill the individual mosquitoes. And what makes this effort worse is that Europe uses the NATO hammer is stead of a fly swatter.

 

German Company Under Investigation For Bribery In Turkish Submarine Deal

State Prosecutors of the city state Bremen have opened a second front in their case against Atlas Elektronik.

Authorities are investigating Atlas Elektronik a joint venture between ThyssenKrupp and Airbus since 2013, for possible kickbacks in the submarine business with Greece. Some irregularities came on with Turkish Reis class (Type 214) project according to the spokesperson of Bremen City Prosecutor’s Office.

It is suspected that the company may have bribed Turkish officials. On 16 February 2016, related business documents and data material was confiscated from the Headquarters of Atlas Electronic in Bremen.
on the premises safe.

The investigations in Greece revealed that bribes totaling €62 million paid for armament contracts between 2000 and 2007.

In Turkish Type 214 project Atlas Elektronik is responsible for delivering very critical and highly specialized combat management system ISUS-90/72 and active and passive sonars.

It is too early to say whether this new investigation will have any negative effects on delivery of Atlas Electronic supplied items.

Can NATO Really Help With The Migrant Crisis In Aegean?

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Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 trains with Turkish Navy. From left to right: F-501 TCG Bodrum, 337 HMCS Fredericton, A-1413 FGS Bonn, F-494 TCG Gökova, F-244 TCG Barbaros

Last week NATO has decided in a very unorthodox speedy way -in a very un-NATO fashion- to deploy one of her naval task force to the Aegean sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece.

Dispatching Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2)to the Aegean was not a big deal since the task force spend the previous week near Aksaz Naval Base in Marmaris conducting joint trainings with Turkish Navy. The task force was literally just a few hours away when NATO Defence Ministers agreed that NATO should provide support to assist with the refugee and migrant crisis on 11 February 2016.

The SNMG-2 is made up by the A-1413 FGS Bonn, 337 HMCS Frederiction, ITS Libeccio and TCG Barbaros.  The flagship of the task force is the German auxiliary FGS Bonn. She is a combat stores ship capable of underway replenishment and can carry 7,850 tons fuel; 1,330 tons water; 280 tons cargo; 220 tons ammunition; 115 tons lubricants.  The others are frigates from Canadian, Italian and Turkish Navies, build to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and ships.

It is clear that none of these ships are specially designed to the given task of contribute critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, stressed that this mission is “not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats,” but about contributing “critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking and criminal networks.” As part of the agreement, NATO will co-operate closely with national coastguards and the European Union. Military authorities are now working out the details of the mission.

And General Philip Breedlove, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), said that deployment of SNMG-2 was not about stopping or pushing back refugee boats. NATO will provide critical intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance information to others to stop the human trafficking and criminal networks in co-operation with national coastguards and the Frontex. The SNMG-2 will be tasked to do monitoring and other support tasks

The seat of purpose for every naval action is on land. The criminal and human trafficking networks are on land. On the sea are just the migrants trying to survive and cross the sea to the other side. Thus it just does not makes sence for NATO to send one oiler and 3 frigates to fish the helpless migrants from the sea and return them back to Turkey. While the ships of SNMG-2 especially the frigates are capable of gathering information about their enemies through their sensors, I have my doubts if these sensors will be adequate to fulfill the given task in this mission. Searching and locating large metal targets on the surface or submerged is one thing locating small dinghies made from plastic is something else.

If NATO nations really wanted to do anything to stop the these criminal networks they should have sent specialised police officers or other law enforcement forces or may be some specialised intelligence gathering ships.

The migrant crisis has a very destabilising effect on the European nations and indirectly threatens the security. But instead of draining the swamp NATO is trying to kill the individual mosquitoes. And what makes this effort worse is that NATO uses a hammer is stead of a fly swatter.

 

Russia And Greece Signed An Agreement On Military Cooperation

Last week Russia and Greece signed an intergovernmental agreement on military cooperation, during the visit of Russian Defense minister Sergei Shoigu to Athens.

It is worth of mentioning that this visit was conducted just before Athens will take the Presidency of EU for the next 6 months staring in 1.1.2014. Greece is NATO’s only member country to pursue fruitful military technological cooperation with Russia.

We signed an agreement that opens new frameworks and new boundaries for our further work in the sphere of military-technical cooperation,” Sergei Shoigu told journalists after talks with his Greek counterpart Dimitrios Avramopoulos in Athens.

The deal concerns armaments supplied previously as well as military hardware, maintenance and new hardware supplies, Shoigu said.

A Russian deputy defense minister, Anatoly Antonov, said after the talks that Shoigu had proposed that Avramopoulos consider working out an agreement to streamline the procedure for Russian navy vessels calling at Greek ports.

Antonov said the two defense ministers had also discussed the possibility of holding personnel training events and exchanging experience in the fight against terrorism and piracy, as well as other areas of cooperation.

This new agreement will make it easier for Russian ships to dock at Greek port during their deployment in the Mediterranean thus making Greece a reliable alternative to the Syrian port Tartus.

According to Greek blog SManalysis, Russia will help Greek Navy to support the Zubr class hovercraft. Greek Navy has procured 4 of these air-cushioned landing craft. Three of them joined the Greek Navy in 2001 and the last one in 2005. They have a displacement of 550 tons and can carry up to 130 tons military material: 3 main battle tanks or 10 armored personnel carriers or 230 troops.

One of them was decommissioned in 2010 and the operational status of the remainder was dubious.

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 10)

There are a lot of things going on in the Eastern Mediterranean lately.

First: The Russians are here. The long, west bound voyage of the Russian Pacific Fleet task force has ended. The ships have arrived in the Med and are in Cyprus for a well deserved rest.The Udaloy class destroyer Admiral Panteleyev, the Dubna class tanker Pechenga and the Baklazhan class tug Fotiy Krylov docked in Limassol Cyprus while the Rophucha class landing ships Peresvet and Admiral Nevelskoi remained on the high seas.

Τhree Russian warships from the Pacific fleet docked at Limassol port this morning, in the first such exit from the Suez canal in decades. The destroyer Admiral Panteleyev is 165 metres long and the tanker Pechenga 130 meters, accompanied by the support vessel Fotiy Krylov.

Two other amphibian vessels are also in the Mediterranean but no docking license has been requested from Cyprus. The three warships sailed from their base in Vladivostok on March 19 and will remain docked for three days for refuelling and personnel rest.

The other warships of the other fleets are active too. The Black Sea Fleet, large landing ship Azov has conducted a training with the North Fleet destroyer Severomorks in the Aegean.

In the central Aegean large anti ship Northern Fleet “Severomorsk” and large landing ship BSF “Azov” trained to test the interaction on the performance of common tasks. Ships the joint maneuvers performed and conducted training of communications and radio communications. At the same time, studies have been conducted with the struggle for survival and a number of measures of search and rescue support.

Click here for photos of Admiral Panteleyev in Limasol.

Second: Cyprus realized that it needs some kind of a navy at least to police its off shore gas and oil drilling rigs and wells. For this they will need some OPV’s with good duration and sea keeping as their mission will be old fashioned constabulary work on the high seas.

Buy two warships offshore to enhance shortly Navy Command of the National Guard for surveillance purposes Cypriot EEZ, announces the Cypriot Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou, in an interview with the newspaper “Politis”. 

The minister states that it can not proceed with its investigation and excavation of hydrocarbons, although there are no safety requirements. 

Also notes that despite the difficult economic situation, we find ways of strengthening the defense capability of the Republic, while promoting and creating strategic alliances with several countries, particularly Israel, because of common interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Two years ago Greece wanted to hand over 3 newly decommissioned  Votsis (La Combatante IIA or Type 148 ) class fast attack craft to Cyprus for EEZ surveillance and protection of natural gas reserves in the region. But Cyprus declined this offer as the offered vessels were not in a good condition.  Their new political ally Israel offered the brand new Saar S-72 class. Interestingly the Israeli navy also needs some cheap ships with good sea keeping in order to police their off shore assess. So may be the Cyprus will be the next customer for Israeli warships.

The design of a new mini-corvette presented by Israel Shipyards during the international exhibition naval systems IMDEX 2013 held in Singapore from 14 to 16 May 2013.

The new mini-corvette called Saar S-72 and is essentially a design evolution of rocket type vessels Saar (Saar 4, 4.5 and 5). Developed with the primary purpose of satisfying the requirements of maritime patrol and surveillance of exclusive economic zones, both Israel and other countries.

Noting that the situation Israel Shipyards developed the mini-corvette Saar S-72 which puts inline between Saar 4.5 and Saar 5. As for the coastguard forces or civilian missions the same design (800 tons displacement) is offered as a patrol offshore Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)

SNMCMG-2 Visited Patras. But I Don’t Think Allied Maritime Command In Naples Knows It.

The German mine hunter M-1064 FGS Grömitz (left) and Turkish mine hunter M-267 TCG Ayvalık in Patras. Photo: Neapatra.blogspot.gr

Standing NATO Maritime Mine Counter Group 2 ended her visit to in Patras, Greece on 30th October 2012.

It seems that the Public Relations Officer responsible for SNMCMG-2 has gone AWOL. The latest news on the official website is from July 2012. But wait. It get’s better.

The photo of TCG Ayvalık on the Force Composition page shows an entirely different class of Turkish mine hunters. TCG Ayvalık is Aydın class based on German Navy Type 332. The photo of the  Force Composition page shows a Edincik class mine hunter which were bought from France and are known as Circé class there. The crème de la cream is if you click on TCG Ayvalık‘s photo it directs you to the Spanish Navy website.

I guess the PRO’s at MC Naples are still doing bunga bunga parties.

 

 

The Breeze 2012 Naval Exercise Starts Tomorrow

M-501 TCG Finike will take part in naval exercise Sea Breeze 2012

According to Sofia News Agency, the Bulgarian Navy will host the Breeze 2012 naval drills in the Western Black Sea.

The Breeze 2012 training will take place June 22-July 1, 2012, with the southern Bulgarian Black Sea port of Burgas serving as a base.

The goal of Breeze 2012 will be to improve the interoperability of multinational naval forces of NATO nations.

It will feature participation by the Bulgarian Navy, the Turkish Navy, the Greek Navy, a US patrol air plane, and three ships from the Second Permanent Naval Group of NATO.

During the Breeze 2012 drills, the Bulgarian frigate Drazki will have its NATO MAREVAL certification affirmed.

Turkish Navy announced participation of the following vessels to the Sea Breeze 2012. One Turkish frigate currently assigned to SNMG-2 will also take part.

Number
Name
Type
S-355 TCG 18 Mart Submarine
P-340 TCG Doğan Fast Attack Craft
P-343 TCG Volkan Fast Attack Craft
M-500 TCG Foça Mine Hunter
M-501 TCG Finike Mine Hunter
A-571 TCG Albay Hakkı Burak Tanker

USS Enterprise In Piraeus

USS Enterprise (left) and USS Vicksburg (right) in Pireus.
Photo: enkripto.com

The US Navy aircraft carrier CVN-65 USS Enterprise arrived in Piraeus for a 3 day visit.

The renowned aircraft carrier is conducting her last deployment. She is scheduled for decommissioning on 1 December 2012. She arrived in Greece with Ticonderoga class cruiser CG-69 USS Vicksburg. This may be the last time for both ships to spend in Piraeus. Like USS Enterprise this is the last deployment for USS Vicksburg too. She will be deactivated in 2013.

The Enterprise Carrier Strike Group is comprised of CVN-65 USS Enterprise, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2, USS Vicksburg (CG 69), and guided-missile destroyers DDG -78 USS Porter, DDG-94 USS Nitze, and DDG -95  USS James E. Williams.

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