Doğu Akdeniz Naval Exercise 2019

Doğu Akdeniz 2019 -Eastern Mediterranean- naval exercise has started in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The biannual exercise is organized by the Turkish Navy will be held between 9 and 20 November 2019. This year 16 nations are taking part in this exercise by various means. Some are sending observers (Azerbaijan, Brazil, Georgia, Italy, Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico) some are sending ships, airplanes, and units (Bulgaria, Spain, Italy, Canada, Pakistan, Romania, Jordan, USA, and Greece)

According to the press releases, 4700 personnel, 44 ships and submarines participating in this exercise.

Furthermore, the following institutions are taking part in the exercise:

  1. Turkish Land Forces Command with attack and transport helicopters.
  2. Turkish Air Force Command with fighter planes, airborne warning and control planes, and CBRN defense team.
  3. Gendarmerie General Command with search and rescue teams.
  4. Coast Guard Command with one OPV and various small vessels.
  5. Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, Transport, Maritime and Communications Ministry, Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, and Turkish Red Crescent

An important part of the exercise will be the attempts to provide coastal safety during disasters by means of disaster and emergency operations, search and rescue, humanitarian aid and air sanitary evacuation procedures.

The most noteworthy aspect of the exercise is the fact that countries such as Greece and Italy are taking part in this exercise, although they are in a power struggle regarding the natural resources below the Eastern Mediterranean.

Here is the list of the participating units as far as I could find it. The list of foreign participants is complete but the names of 13 Turkish naval assets are missing.

Number Name Type Nation Fleet
42 BGS Verni Frigate Bulgaria
S-532 ITS Prini Submarine Italy
260 PNS Alamgir Frigate Pakistan
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Frigate Romania
A-5329 ITS Vesuvio Auxilliary Italy SNMCMG-2
M-268 TCG Amasra Mine hunter Turkey SNMCMG-2
M-32 ESPS Sella Mine hunter Spain SNMCMG-2
M-5557 ITS Numana Mine hunter Italy SNMCMG-2
330 HMCS Halifax Frigate Canada SNMG-2
A-14 ESPS Patino Auxilliary Spain SNMG-2
F-103 ESPS Blas de Lezo Frigate Spain SNMG-2
F-459 HS Adrias Frigate Greece SNMG-2
F-491 TCG Giresun Frigate Turkey SNMG-2
A-543 TCG Işın Auxilliary Turkey
A-580 TCG Akar Auxilliary Turkey
F-244 TCG Barbaros Frigate Turkey
F-490 TCG Gaziantep Frigate Turkey
F-491 TCG Giresun Frigate Turkey
F-494 TCG Gökçeada Frigate Turkey
F-495 TCG Gediz Frigate Turkey
F-497 TCG Göksu Frigate Turkey
F-500 TCG Bozcaada Corvette Turkey
F-501 TCG Bodrum Corvette Turkey
F-511 TCG Heybeliada Corvette Turkey
F-512 TCG Büyükada Corvette Turkey
L-402 TCG Bayraktar Amphibious Turkey
L-403 TCG Sancaktar Amphibious Turkey
M-265 TCG Alanya Minehunter Turkey
M-270 TCG Akçay Minehunter Turkey
P-334 TCG Rüzgar Fast attack Turkey
S-353 TCG Preveze Submarine Turkey

The Long Arm Of Turkish Coast Guard

The approximate site of the interception. It is 750 nautical miles away from the nearest Turkish naval base.

The Turkish Coast Guard made an illegal substance interception 750 nautical miles away from Turkey.

The operation was conducted somewhere 78 nautical miles off Tripoli, Libya and 150 nautical miles off Sfax, Tunisia. This is the most distant operation ever carried by the Turkish Coast Guard.

The Turkish flagged fishing boat M/V Pervin Oğulları was carrying 5000 kg of marijuana. This is the third long-distance drug bust of the Turkish Coast Guard

Acting on a tip-off, Turkish security forces established that suspected drug traffickers aboard M/V Pervin Oğulları sailed away from the Izmir, Turkey in early February to the coasts of Mauritania, Morocco, and Algeria, to acquire large amounts of drugs.

The drugs were intercepted on their way to Turkey before the traffickers were able to distribute them to smaller vessels before smuggling them into Turkey.

Two Dost class offshore patrol vessels of the Turkish Coast Guard, TCSG Umut and TCSG Yaşam took part in the operation and carried two helicopters and 25 law enforcement officers, 15 of them from the Gendarmerie.

The 6 crew of the fishing boat has been arrested along with 7 others in Turkey. The fishing boat was brought to Izmir, Turkey where it has started it’s ill-fated voyage.

Here is a 20-minute long video of about the operation including the footage of the actual boarding conducted at 04.00 am on 15 April 2019.

The commissioning of Dost class vessels has really increased the operational range of Turkish Coast Guard and it is nice to see that these vessels are deployed properly for long distance operations freeing up warships.

The Participants In Mavi Vatan Exercise (Part 2)

An update to the major units taking part in the exercise Mavi Vatan:

Legend: Green means confirmed participant. Red means confirmed nonparticipant.

Small landing craft and auxiliaries taking part in the exercise are not included in the list. For further information regarding the exercise click here.

Additional information:

Frigates: TCG Gökçeada is deployed with the SNMG-2 and TCG Geliblou is in Gulf Of Aden with CTF-151. One frigate is escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean. This means all frigates of the Turkish Navy are deployed.

Corvettes: Two corvettes are also escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean.  This leaves 8 corvettes available for this exercise. Only one will miss it out.

Minehunters: TCG Akçakoca is deployed with SNMCMG-2. From the available ten strong force, 7 will take part.

Submarines: As their nature, they are the most difficult units to identify. TCG Gür is in Italy to join the NATO exercise Dynamic Manta. Two more are deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean according to Turkish General Staff. 7 out of 9 available submarines are taking part.

Amphibious ships: According to pre-exercise briefing 22 amphibious ships are participating in this exercise. Most of them are smaller LCT and LCM sized landing craft.

Fast attack craft: Turkish Navy has 19 missile-armed fast attack craft. 16 of them are taking part in this exercise.

The Participants In Mavi Vatan Exercise

Regular readers of this blog will know, that I like to name the units that are taking part in an exercise. It is not easy to identify the participating units to the Mavi Vatan naval exercise. First, there are 103 units taking part in this drill. I would be able to get to name them all. Second, most of the attention of the media is focused on larger units like frigates and corvettes. The smaller landing craft and the auxiliaries taking part will not be covered.

Never the less I am trying to find the larger units participating in this exercise. Here is the list:

Legend: Green means confirmed participant. Red means confirmed nonparticipant.

Frigates: TCG Gökçeada is deployed with the SNMG-2 and TCG Geliblou is in Gulf Of Aden with CTF-151. One frigate is escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean. This means all frigates of the Turkish Navy are deployed.

Corvettes: Two corvettes are also escorting the Barbaros Hayrettin seismic ship in the Mediterranean.  This leaves 8 corvettes available for this exercise. Only one will miss it out.

Minehunters: TCG Akçakoca is deployed with SNMCMG-2. From the available ten strong force, 7 will take part.

Submarines: As their nature, they are the most difficult units to identify. TCG Gür is in Italy to join the NATO exercise Dynamic Manta. Two more are deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean according to Turkish General Staff. 7 out of 9 available submarines are taking part.

Amphibious ships: According to pre-exercise briefing 22 amphibious ships are participating in this exercise. Most of them are smaller LCT and LCM sized landing craft.

Fast attack craft: Turkish Navy has 19 missile-armed fast attack craft. 16 of them are taking part in this exercise.

What Does The Exercise Mavi Vatan Mean?

Today, 96 ships of various types and 7 submarines sailed away from their ports this morning as the naval exercise Mavi Vatan started. Mavi Vatan means Blue Motherland (or Fatherland or Homeland depending your own orientation) and refers to the seas around Turkey.

The break down of the participants in number and percentage.

The exercise is held in the Eastern Mediterranean, Aegean and in the Black Sea simultaneously and is the largest naval exercise ever held in Turkey. The exercise will continue till 8th March 2019.

In addition to the above-mentioned assets, helicopters, planes and special forces teams of Turkish Navy, attack and transport helicopters from Turkish Land Forces, fighter and early warning planes from Turkish Air Force, and boats and helicopters from Turkish Coast Guard are also participating in this exercise.

Turkish Navy usually conducts its spring exercise a few weeks later, usually in late March, early April or in May when the seas are less demanding and the winds are fairer. These wargames are more compact in size and in their scopes.

In many aspects, this is not a standard annual wargame played by the Turkish Naval Forces. And when nations stage grandiose military games it is usually a kind of a signal.

There was one such major exercise the Turkish Navy had held in June 1998, Turkish naval elements spread over the Mediterranean. One group was deployed east of Malta and the other west of Crete before launching a virtual battle with the participation of the Turkish air force. That was the largest exercise ever held by the Turkish navy in the Mediterranean and was meant as a response to the tension with Greece at that time.

The Turkish media say the exercise is actually a message to the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF), a coalition formed recently by Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. The alliance plans to explore energy sources in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, including disputed areas. This show of force on the maritime domain will surely be closely watched by these nations.

So what makes this exercise novel if we would skip the most obvious part:

  • Unmanned aircraft and autonomous unmanned vehicles will be used together with the manned systems. The short ranged Bayraktar and the longer range ANKA UAV’s are in service with the Turkish Navy. Bayraktar can carry smart micro munition. ANKA can be controlled via satellite thus enabling it to fly long-range missions. The Gavia autonomous unmanned vehicles can detect mines down to 1000m depth. Previous systems on board of the mine hunters were limited down to 270m. The integration of these modern systems into existing capabilities must be tested.
  • The usage of command, control, communication, and intelligence systems. Turkish Navy has been trying to increase its awareness over the maritime domain. A lot has been invested in land-based long-range radar systems, airborne early warning aircraft and in data linking ability. These have to be tried and assessed.
  • In the pre-exercise briefing, it has been announced that a locally developed computer-based naval warfare simulator (game) will be used during this exercise. With the help of this system, the commanders will be able to make decisions based on the played scenarios rendered from real-life situations.
  • The validation of the effectiveness of the Naval Warfare Center established last year. 165 strong staff will be running this large exercise.

Not much left sitting in the port.

It has been announced that live firings will be conducted during the Mavi Vatan 2019 exercise. Though at this stage it is not clear what type of ammunition will be tested against what kind of target(s). Only UMTAS, long-range anti-tank missile, and CİRİT, 2.75” laser-guided missile has been specially mentioned. Both munitions are specially made to be used from attack helicopters. We will have to wait to learn why these two missiles are mentioned. Are they integrated into a naval platform or will they be fired from army attack helicopters?

More than %80 of all corvettes, fast attack craft, and patrol boats, currently not deployed to a mission are taking part in this exercise. An impressive %93 of all frigates have sailed away.  To keep so many ships for 10 days at sea requires also a good and strong logistical support. The test the logistical support Turkey can provide to its deployed forces is one of the important issues of this exercise.

For me, the most important part of the exercise will be the port visits made by the Turkish warships. Between 6th and 8th March, 40 ports will be visited by 67 participating naval units, 7 of which are foreign ports.

Turkish warships will visit, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russian Federation, Georgia and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The simultaneous visits to the Black Sea riparian states have a high symbolic value. Turkey is the only 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.

In conclusion, this exercise is a military drill to turn the concepts of Turkish Armed Forces into doctrines as indicated by Mr. Metin Gürcan, an independent security analyst. This exercise is a political act to show that Turkey will protect its interests on the high seas.

Submarine Search, Escape And Rescue Exercise Dynamic Monarch 2017 Starts Tomorrow

Commissioned in January this year, submarine rescue mother ship TCG Alemdar will take part in Dynamic Monarch exercise.

 

Turkey will host the submarine search, escape and rescue exercise Dynamic Monarch. The exercise is the 10th in a series of NATO sponsored exercise will start on 8th September off the coast of Marmaris, Turkey.

The aim of the exercise is to demonstrate multi-national submarine rescue co-operation and to share related knowledge amongst partners.

Following units will take part in the exercise:

From Turkey: One frigate, two rescue vessels, two submarines, two minesweepers, two patrol boats, one submarine parachute assistance team, one submarine one maritime patrol plane, one helicopter, two patrol vessels from Coast Guard, one ambulance helicopter from Turkish Army and one C-130 Hercules cargo plane from Turkish Air Force.
From Spain: One submarine.
From Italy: One submarine rescue mother ship, one submarine rescue vehicle
From US Navy: One diving bell
From Canada: One diving team, one medical assistance team
From Poland: One diving team
Further more the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS), owned and operated by Norway, France and the United Kingdom will also take part.

The exercise will end on 22nd September.

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.

Turkish Navy Is Taking Part In Deniz Kurdu 2017

On 13 May 2017 Turkish warships set sail to participate in annual Deniz Kurdu exercise.

The exercise is held in Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean Sea and will continue till 26 May 2017.

The purpose of the exercise is:

  • to test the efficiency level of the current command control structure under realistic conditions
  • to determine the functionality of the support provided to the other forces
  • to evaluate the to what extent the units of Turkish Naval Command can fulfill their duties and responsibilities  during the transition from a crisis environment to a conventional warfare environment.

14 frigates, 6 corvettes, 17 fast attack craft, 9 submarines, 6 mine hunters, 13 logistic support ships, 4 patrol boats, 4 MPA/ASW planes, 19 helicopters are taking part in this exercise. 9 boats and 1 SAR vessel from Turkish Coast Guard and numerous planes from Turkish Air Force is also taking part in this exercise.

The table below shows, the percentage of the participating Turkish Naval units, compared to the total ships in service.

In service Participating to DK 2017 %
Frigates 16 14 88%
Submarines 12 9 75%
Corvettes 8 6 75%
Fast Attack Craft 19 17 89%
Mine hunters 11 6 55%
Patrol boats 16 4 25%
Logistic support ships 5 13 260%
Planes 8 4 50%
Helicopters 35 19 54%

As one can see the majority of Turkish Naval units are taking part in Deniz Kurdu 2017.

The numbers for logistics supports ships does not make any sense. Turkish Navy has 5 replenishment ships that can be counted as logistics support ship. I have no idea how number for logistic ships was calculated as 13. As more news and photos start to be published we may learn more.

But other numbers are impressive and show that the majority of Turkish warships are, now at sea and honing their skills.

Turkey Deploys Two Warships To SNMG-2

f491

TCG Giresun passing through Istanbul in 2014. Photo: Yörük Işık.

Gabya class frigate F-491 TCG Giresun and Tuzla class patrol boat P-1201 TCG Karaburun has been deployed to Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

According to NATO Maritime Command, TCG Giresun is attached to SNMG-2 Task Unit 2 consisting of Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate HMCS St. John’s. TCG Giresun will join the task force in Toronto, Italy.

The patrol boat TCG Karaburun is deployed closer to Turkey. She is will support NATO activities in the Aegean Sea as part of the international efforts to stop illegal trafficking and migration. Tuzla class patrol boats have been very active last year in the Aegean Sea and rescued hundreds may be thousands of refugees from the sea.

Brazilian Frigate Liberal In Mersin

liberal

A photo from the reception on board of frigate Liberal. From left to right: Brazilian military attaché, Governor of Mersin, Brazilian Ambassador, Mayor of Mersin, Commander of Meditreeanean Area Command; Commander of MTF-UNIFIL. Photo: Sözcü

The Niterói class frigate F-43 BRS Liberal arrived in Mersin, Turkey, for a 3 day port visit.

The ship joined the Maritime Task Force of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (MTF-UNIFIL) in early September. This is her first port visit in Mersin.

There was a reception on board of frigate.

 

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