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Turkish Coast Guard And Navy Confiscate Record Size Of Narcotics

M/V Commander Tide being towed towards Aksaz Naval Base by tug TCG İnebolu.

Turkish Navy and Turkish Coast Guard conducted a joint operation and confiscated 1071 kilograms of narcotics of board of M/V Commander Tide.

M/V Commander Tide is a Democratic Republic of the Congo flagged off shore supply vessel. On 30. May 2017, upon receiving a tip-off about the narcotics on board of M/V Commander Tide, frigate TCG Gemlik was deployed to Eastern Mediterranean close the northern entrance of Suez Canal with a helicopter and a naval special forces team on board. Acting as the lookout, the frigate found M/V Commander Tide and started to shadow her.

The route of the ships and the location of the operation. Yellow for coast guard vessels, red for the target.

Two off shore patrol vessels from Coast Guard were deployed with anti-drug police teams, TCSG Yaşam from Mersin and TCSG Güven from Aksaz.  Both ships intercepted their target in international waters of Mediterranean between Turkey and Suez Canal.

On 2. June 2017 before the midnight one naval special forces team boarded the vessels from the sea while a second one fast-roped from a Seahawk helicopter of the navy. The M/V Commander Tide was under control in 26 minutes and her 9 strong Turkish crew were arrested. The ship was towed to Aksaz Naval base by Turkish naval tug TCG İnebolu.

Teams from the police’s anti-drug branch and Muğla Coast Guard Command carried out searches on the ship and found clandestine sections, of which one included 1071 kilograms of heroin hidden in 40 sacks. According to the police, the amount of heroin corresponds to the highest seized by security forces in Turkey’s recent history.

The operation was dedicated to Coast Guard sailor Alper Al, who was killed by an IED attack on May 22, 2016.

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An US Company Pays Compensation To The Family Of A Dead Turkish Admiral

This was an interesting news of an interesting development which could be turn into something big.

Family compensated after Turkish admiral dies of asbestos on US ship
A U.S. ship-building company has paid compensation to the family of a Turkish admiral who died of cancer after serving for years on a warship containing asbestos.

The Turkish admiral served on the warship Adatepe D 353, which was purchased from the United States in 1971, before he died of cancer, Güngör Karakuş of daily Habertürk reported today.

The admiral’s family, who asked to remain anonymous, sought legal compensation after they learned that the late officer contracted cancer due to the asbestos used in the U.S.-made ship. A court sentenced the company that built the ship to pay an undisclosed amount of money to the family to compensate for the admiral’s death.

The court’s ruling provided a precedent for the families of thousands of other Turkish sailors who have died of, or have suffered from, cancer to seek legal compensation from the company, lawyers Özge Haktan and Özlem Nur Öztürk said, as the Turkish Navy was known to possess a total of 25 warships built using asbestos that were all purchased from, or donated by, the U.S.

The first of the asbestos-laden warships were delivered to Turkey in 1949 as a donation from the U.S., the report said. Turkey continued to acquire ships that contained asbestos through donations and purchases in subsequent years.

Service members who worked on ships containing asbestos previously received compensation in the U.S., Italy and Greece, but the present case is the first time any Turk has received a payment.

As far as I know this is the first case of such compensation. In the Turkish version of this the sister lawyers stated that they were approached by their US colleagues during an international conference  about the possibility of collection compensations. I believe this could be a fallout of the class actions of US-based lawyers against asbestos and  the shipyards  that used this material.

I made a quick research about the destroyers transferred from US navy to Turkish Navy since the end of Second World War and about their constructors The two destroyers escorts TCG Berk and TCG Peyk were not transferred from US Navy. These ships were built in Turkey after the plans of US Navy Claude Jones class ships. It is highly possible that asbestos was used in their construction. This is why I have added them to the list.

All of the ships are long gone, a couple sunk as targets, a few turned into museums, rest scrapped. Of the 7 different shipyards that constructed the ships 4 are still in business.

Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co: 6 ships transferred from USN were built by this yard. The yard and the company does not exist any more.

Gulf Shipbuilding: 1 destroyer, transferred was build here. The company does not exist any more.

Bath Iron Works: This company is still in business. One of the few shipyards able to produce large warships for the US Navy. 3 ships from this yard was in commission in Turkish Navy.

Bethlehem Steel Corporation: This is the shipyard that produced the ex  USS Forrest Royal ex TCG Adatepe and 7 other destroyers used by Turkish Navy. Although the name of the company that paid the compensation was not disclosed in the article it is clear that it was the Bethlehem Steel Company or its current owner.

Consolidated Steel Co: This company is still in business. They have built 4 destroyers used by Turkish navy.

Todd Pacific: This company is still in business and was bought by another. One destroyer used bu Turkish Navy was built by this shipyard.

Gölcük Naval Shipyard: This is the main shipyard of Turkish Navy and is specialized in submarine and frigate production. 2 Berk class ships based on US Claud Jones destroyer escort design, were built here.

I wonder if asbestos was only used in destroyers in US Navy. Turkish Navy received a wast variety of ships, submarines, destroyers, frigates, mine hunters, patrol boats, depot ships just to name a few. Did these ships had also asbestos and if yes aren’t the sailors worked in these vessels eligible to the same compensation?

Time will tell us if this case is going to be the first one of a many similar cases or just one time hit.

Below is a list of the all destroyers Turkish Navy received from US Navy and their service time in Turkish Navy.

Pennant Name Class Builder Commissioning Decommissioning Service
D340 İstanbul Fletcher Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1967 1986 19
D341 İzmir Fletcher Gulf Shipbuilding 1967 1986 19
D342 İzmit Fletcher Bath Iron Works 1969 1980 11
D343 İskenderun Fletcher Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1969 1981 12
D344 İçel Fletcher Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1969 1981 12
D344 Gaziantep Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1950 1973 23
D345 Yücetepe Gearing Consolidated Steel Co 1974 1998 24
D345 Giresun Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1949 1973 24
D346 Alçıtepe Carpenter Bath Iron Works 1982 1997 15
D346 Gelibolu Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1949 1976 27
D347 Anıttepe Carpenter Consolidated Steel Co 1981 1997 16
D347 Gemlik Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1950 1974 24
D348 Savaştepe Gearing Consolidated Steel Co 1981 1994 13
D349 Kılıçalipaşa Gearing Consolidated Steel Co 1980 1998 18
D350 Piyalepaşa Gearing Bath Iron Works 1980 1999 19
D351 M Fevzi Çakmak Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1973 1994 21
D352 Gayret Gearing Todd Pacific 1973 1995 22
D353 Adatepe Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1971 1993 22
D354 Kocatepe Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1971 1974 3
D354 Kocatepe (II) Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1974 1993 19
D355 Tınaztepe Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1972 1984 12
D356 Zafer Allen M. Sumner Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1972 1993 21
D358 Berk Berk Gölcük Naval Yard 1972 1999 27
D359 Peyk Berk Gölcük Naval Yard 1975 2001 26
DM357 Muavenet Robert H. Smith Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1971 1992 21

The Sledgehammer Keeps Crushing The Turkish Armed Forces

Today is the first diversionary of the arrests made by the third wave of the Sledgehammer case.

If you have heard it all ready, the Sledgehammer is the name of the  of an alleged Turkish secularist military coup plan which reportedly dates back to 2003. The trial for the criminal case has just started in 16 December 2010.

But during the 2010 there were a number of arrests during the investigation for the case. In February 2010, 95 people were detained. 86 of these were military personnel, 70 of them in active duty including 4 admirals. Most of them were released from custody in 2010. But after the hearing of 11 February 2011 the court decided to arrest 163 officers. Most of these 163 officers were arrested for the same case in 2010.

As today more than 347 officers (35 retired rest in active duty) including General İlker Başbuğ, who served as chief of the Turkish General Staff from 2008 to 2010, are behind bars.

There are many inconsistencies among the documents used for the Sledgehammer Indictment which prove that this evidence was fabricated and should not be valid. But the irrationality of the Sledgehammer allegations has failed to halt the case or to persuade the court to release the defendants pending the completion of their trial.

This is an excellent guide to Sledgehammer. and this is an excellent guide to the power struggle behind the whole thing.
The situation is especially dire for the Turkish Navy. 25 active duty admirals are imprisoned at the moment. Among them are commanders of the Northern Sea Area, Southern Sea Area, Submarine Group Command, Southern Task Force, Plans and Policy Department, Chief of Staff of the Fleet Command, Deputy Commander of Navy Personnel Department,  all important and key commands for the navy.

When he unexpected resigned from his post of Chief of General Staff, General Koşaner clearly indicated the negative effects of the long and indecisive legal process of the Sledgehammer case for the Turkish Armed Forces in general. All the active duty officers who are on trial right now, have lost their promotions as the Personnel Law of the Turkish Armed Forces prohibits an active officer who is on a trial to be promoted to a higher rank before he is acquitted.

What makes me sad is the fact that the fabric of the Turkish Armed forces has been tampered by this McCarthyism plot. Many fine, brilliant and cleaver officers are lost their way up as they are behind bars during the slow progressing criminal case.

The Sledgehammer case did not only put the traditional and carefully planned promotion scheme, build on hard work and loyalty in disarray, they have also created enough diversion and distraction of all services from their primary duty of national defence. The traditional promotion scheme of Turkish Armed Forces has the purpose like in all other armed forces to prepare officers for their next assignments and make sure that only deserving officers are allocated to their billets. For next couple of years many officers will be forces to take commands for which they are not fully prepared or not equipped. The damage of these interventions into the Turkish Armed Forces will haunt us for a long time in the future.

The whole process bears heavily on the families of the defendants too. The wives and children of the defendants are waiting their loved ones to return to their homes to continue with their normal life. The military families especially families of navy personnel are accustomed for long periods of deployments. But even these long deployments have a termination date. For the Sledgehammer case there no such date in sight.

Sun Tzu said: For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

Top Four Commanders Of Turkish Armed Forces Resigns

I am very unhappy.

Yesterday, 29 July 2011 was day that will not be forgotten easily. The top 4 commanders of Turkish Armed Forces, the Chief of the General Staff of Turkish Armed Forces General Kosaner, the Commander of Army General Ceylaoğlu, the Commander of Navy Admiral Yiğit and the Commander of the Airforce General Aksay resigned from their posts by asking for their retirement.

The fifth member of the top brass, The Commander of Gendarmerie General Özel, who did not resigned is appointed as the commander of Army immediately. According to the laws and rules the Chief of the General Staff must command an armed service before being appointed. The Gendarmerie is not considered as one of the main armed service, as it is the police force that operates in rural areas. Thus General Özel was appointed as the commander of the Army so that he can be selected as the next Chief of the General Staff.

The resigns of the top commander of the Turkish Armed Forces came as a shock only two days before the next meetings of Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) that convenes in August each year to decide on senior military assignments and promotions.

Below is the Google translation of the farewell speech of General Kosaner.

“Currently, 173 active duty, 77 retired total of the 250 general, admiral, officers, noncommissioned officers and gendarme sergeant specialist, as the detainees are deprived of freedoms. Arrests are the universal rules of law, rights, justice and conscience to accept was made in accordance with the values​​, as expressed by the many lawyers, it is not possible. In this situation, many times forwarded to the competent authorities, in spite of being told and followed the legal framework, the problem has not been possible to find a solution. Although there is currently no definitive judicial decision of the rights of prisoners-admiral of the 14 generals and 58 colonels, as well as further threat to freedoms in accordance with our laws this year to present Supreme Military Council, lost the right to take Supreme Military Council evaluated and punished in advance. A long-term objective of the investigation and arrests in the Turkish Armed Forces kept alive ever tried to be created the false impression that public opinion in a criminal organization, so the opportunity to know all kinds of false news media bias, slander and accusations that the great incentive to take a stand against our nation own armed forces. This situation can not be eliminated, and the attempts made by the authorities ignored the rights and laws protect our staff as chief of staff is my responsibility to meet the obstacle, the occupation that I eliminated the opportunity to continue this noble task tenure. Whatever the conditions before that served as the holy members of the Turkish Armed Forces hero after that superior discipline, courage and absolute faith in the sacrifice success once again expressed confidence, while the Turkish Armed Forces I wish all the members of the health and well-being.”

I know Google translation from Turkish into English sucks most of the time. So I try to make some sense.

General Koşaner clearly indicates the long and indecisive legal process of the Sledgehammer case. All the active duty officers have lost their promotions. According to the Personnel Law of the Turkish Armed Forces, an active officer who is on a trial, cannot be promoted to a higher rank before the case has ended. It means that the all active duty officers now under arrest will not get any promotions before the case is finished, even if they are released from the prison during the case or do not receive any sentencing.

It is obvious the pressure that was put on the Turkish Armed Forces by the Sledgehammer and other cases become in tolerable that they led to the resignations of today.

What makes me sad is the fact that the fabric of the Turkish Armed forces has been tampered. Many fine, brilliant and cleaver officers are lost their way up as they are behind bars during the slow progressing criminal case.

The Balyoz case and yesterdays resignations did not only put the traditional and carefully planned promotion scheme, build on hard work and loyalty in disarray, they have also created enough diversion and distraction of  all services from their primary duty of national defence. The traditional promotion scheme of Turkish Armed Forces has the purpose like in all other armed forces to prepare officers for their next assignments and make sure that only deserving officers are allocated to their billets. For next couple of years many officers will be forces to take commands for which they are not fully prepared or not equipped. The damage of these interventions into the Turkish Armed Forces will haunt us for a long time in the future.
Sun Tzu said: For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

 

Another Arrest In Sledgehammer

Yesterday, Air Force General Bilgin Balanlı was arrested. He is accused to be a part of the alleged Sledgehammer conspiracy. He is the highest ranking officer to be arrested in this case (yet)

According to news reports his main crime might be to order periodic areal reconnaissance flights over a large farm turned into a private village in Eskişehir. This village is populated solely by the members of the Naqshbandi order of Sufi Islam.

General Balanlı is the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces War College. According to the customs of Turkish Armed Forces the holder of this post is promoted to be the head of Turkish Air Force. Thus with the arrest of the future Commander of Turkish Air Force ( İf not arrested Gen. Balabanlı was be the commander of TuAf in August 2011) has broken the line of succession.

He is the 31st general in Hasdal Military penitentiary, Istanbul. As a comparison, there are only 30 generals in the HQ of the Turkish General Staff. In other words there are enough generals in custody to run an armed forces in size of Turkey’s.

As expected the trial of the Sledgehammer case is proceeding very slowly so that it might take years before it ends.

I know enough history that fate does not have mercy on nations that purged their officers like we do now.

>3 Ex-Ministers May Face Charges Over Papanikolis Deal

>When on 22 December 2010, HS Papanikolis, first Type 214 submarine of Greek Navy, finally entered into active service, after a unique and long history of procurement, I thought the drama surrounding these submarines was eventually over.

The Greek daily Ekathimerini proved that I was wrong. The Financial and Economic Crime Unit (S.D.O.E) of the Greek Ministry of Finance has conducted an investigation about the prorucement of 4 type U-214 submarines from Germany. The SDOE recomends that three former ministers as well as severel public officials should face prosecution.

SDOE is due to deliver its findings to the Athens Prosecutor’s Office this coming week and Greek judicial authorities will then make a request to German authorities for details of the financial transactions involved in the purchase of the submarines.SDOE will also ask for the bank accounts of all those alleged to be involved to be frozen.

It has been claimed that Ferrostaal, a subsidiary of the MAN Group until 2009, which was part of the consortium that won the contract in 2000 to supply the submarines, paid 10 to 12 million euros to secure the deal for the first of these vessels.The agreement for the four submarines was worth 1.26 billion euros.

This acquisition project is a true Greek tragedy.

Hat tip: Kobus.

>Turkish Navy To Continue Anti-piracy Operations

>On Monday, 7 February 2011, Turkishparliament passed a motion submitted by the government, to extend thepresence of Turkish warships in Gulf of Aden for one year. This is the second extention for this mission.

According to Defence Minister VecdiGönül on average, 360 – 380 Turkish flagged or owned merchant shipspass through the Gulf of Aden every year.
Since 2008 in 15 different operationsTurkish naval forces captured 94 pirates.
Click here to read the debate in theparliament.  

>A Small Naval Review of 2010

>As one year ends and the new one starts, the temptation to make lists about various subjects becomes almost irresistible. So I followed the urge in me and made this 5 point list about the most important events for Turkish Navy in 2010:

  1. The Sea Trials of TCG Heybeliada: The first ship of the Milgem class F-511 TCG Heybeliada stared her sea trails 26 months after her launching. These test also marked an important milestone of the overall project. For the first time a indigenous designed and built warship sailed. TCG Heybeliada is scheduled for the official commissioning in Turkish Navy this year.
  2. Turkish Naval Task Force: For the first time in the recent history Turkish Navy formed a Task Force and have it sailed in the Mediterranean Sea for 2 months. During its existence the task force made 10 port visits in 8 different countries and joint exercise with various navies. Turkish Navy intents to create another task force in 2011. This task force will sail in the Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and in adjunct seas and conduct port visits and other maritime duties.
  3. The Second Command of CTF-151: Between September and December 2010, Turkish Navy was in command of CTF-151 for a second term. CTF-151 is a multinational TF organized by US Navy. Its main mission is to provide security for merchant ships in Gulf of Aden against Somali pirates and to conduct interdiction operations against established pirate skiffs and motherships. One of the highlights during this period was the boarding made by US Marines to the M/V Magellan Star while the pirates were still on board. After a brief operations the pirates were comprehended white the crew of the ship was hiding in a safe room.
  4. The Sledgehammer: Sledgehammer is the name of an alleged Turkish secularist military coup plan which reportedly dates back to 2003. The trial for the criminal case has just started in 16 December 2010. But during the whole 2010 there were a number of arrest during the investigation for the case. In February 2010, 95 people were detained. 86 of these were military personnel, 70 of them in active duty including 4 admirals. I personally believe that the whole case is a text book McCarthyism. Though no one has proven guilty yet it has already hurt lives and careers of many. And most importantly it has created enough diversion and distracted all services from their primary duty of national defense as many of the top brass was busy with their personal self defense.
  5. The never ending wrestling at the Aegean: Despite the mutual visits of high ranking politicans and military personel,  the constant wrestling in the Aegean continues as ever. Last year movements of Turkish warships in Aegean found a bigger than usual coverage in Greek media. The movements of Turkish warships were accused of breaching the rules of innocent passage. And usually the opposition media blamed the Greek government of being to subversive. The Turkish side insisted that the movements of the warships should be regarded within the definition of transit passage. Although the relations between the two countries seems to be better than it was a decade ago the fundamental problems still linger around.

>A Maritime Security Center of Excellence Being Established For Turkey

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A protocol was signed between Turkish General Staff, Department of Strategy and Undersecretariat of Maritime Affairs for the establishment of Maritime Security Center of Excellence. (MSCoE)
According to the protocol the aim of the MSCoE is to create synchronization among all real or legal entities that contribute to maritime security.
Turkish General Staff, Turkish Navy, Turkish Coast Guard, National Police will constitute the executive board during the establishment period.
MSCoE will develop projects and provide decision making support about maritime security, maritime domain awareness, marine technologies, early warning issues.
The decision to create a Center of Excellence for Maritime Security issues is a major development. It is a clear and obvious sign that Turkey like many other maritime nations is focusing to the maritime domain and the opportunities and dangers its hiding.  It will take time for the MSCoE to establish itself as an accepted institution for maritime affairs but if it works as planed it can add much value to the over Turkish maritime policies.

>The End Of The Turkish Coast Guard

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Last week it was reported that there was a notion to abolish the Turkish Coast Guard. Instead of the coast guard a General Directorate of Border Guard will be established.

The law about this new structure has not been opened to discussion in the parliament but news about it already leaked out.

Before we shall go into the details of this new notion we shall examine the current status first. Currently the Coast Guard just like the Gendarmerie is under dual control. As an organization, Coast Guard Command is subordinated, into the staff and organization of the Turkish Armed Forces. But during the peace time Turkish Coast Command is responsible to Ministry of Internal Affairs in terms of assigned duties and operations along the Turkish coastline, and all maritime areas that are under Turkish sovereignty and control in accordance with the national and international laws.

In simpler terms, Turkish Coast Guard is a military organization that almost duplicates the structure of the Turkish Navy but acts as a law enforcement agency during peace times.

The biography of the current Commander shows the Navy connection clearly: Rear Admiral (UH) İzzet Artunç, 13th Commandant of the Turkish Coast Guard Command, was graduated from the Turkish Naval Academy in 1973 with the rank of Ensign. Later he attended the Submarine Officer Specialization Course become a submariner. His last assignment before being the Commander of Coast Guard was as Chief of Logistics in Turkish Naval Forces Command.

The proposal will change the structure of the Coast Guard from a military force to a policing force. The new Border Guard will only be subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs just like the civilian police force. The existing personnel and infrastructure of the CG will be transferred to the new BG organization. The border outposts and frontier troop’s currently under the command of Turkish Army or Gendarmerie will be transferred to this new General Directorate of Border Guard too.

The personnel of the future Border Guard will be educated in police academies instead of the military schools. The names of ranks and the whole promotions and appointments structure will change to reflect to emphasize the civilian side of the new organization.

The new organization will have some powers that Coast Guard does not currently have. The Border Guard will have the right to monitor the communication of suspected without an approval of a judge. The new police force will have the right to obtain, bear and use heavy weapons that are not normally used as standard police weapons such as the 40mm guns on board of the most coast guard vessels.

The proposed a General Directorate of Border Guard will affect the Coast Guard fundamentally. Gendarmerie Command protects the land borders and ensures their security but forther more it is also responsible for the maintenance of the public order in areas that fall outside the jurisdiction of police forces. These areas cover the most of the rural Turkey. So when the new Border Guard comes into existence the Gendarmerie will give up only a part of its duties. On the other hand the whole 7200 km long sea border of Turkey and is only policed by the Turkish Coast Guard. The General Directorate of Border Guard will cease the existence of the Turkish Coast Guard as we know it.

So why is this change seemed to be necessary?

The main reason is to create a police rather than military force to protect the borders in accordance with the Schengen and EU acquis. The proposed structure of the Border Guard resembles the organisations already existing in Europe.

One other reason is to free the Land Force from border protection duties and focus it on more essential military missions.

It is not clear when the new law notion will be discussed and voted in the parliament. But a timeline for the change of responsibility on the borders has already been made. According to this scheduled the first change of duty will be in 2015 and the last one in 2018. The change of infrastructure and the facilities is planned for 2014. Thus Turkish Coast Guard has four more years left, as we know it.

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