An Afternoon On TCG Burgazada

TCG Burgazada. The third Milgem class corvette.

TCG Burgazada. The third Milgem class corvette.

During the IDEF 2019 defense exhibition last week I had the privilege to visit TCG Burgazada.

TCG Burgazada is the third of the four Ada class corvettes. She was commissioned on 4th November 2018 and is the newest warship of the Turkish Navy.

Turkish Navy always considered the first two ships as prototypes. The lessons learned in constructing and using these ships were to be incorporated in the subsequent ships as there were under construction. Thus TCG Burgazada is slightly updated compared to TCG Heybeliada and TCG Büyükada, though these changes are subtle and mostly not visible from the outside at all.

One exception is the new Aselsan Seaeye-Ahtapot electro-optic sensor on the aft mast while the previous ships use Aselflir 300. Aselflir 300 was originally designed for airborne platforms and was installed without much modification. Thus the mean time between regular maintenance is quite short for a maritime system and the whole sensor must be taken down for the maintenance. These shortcomings are rectified in Seaeye-Ahtapot and the operators are quite happy with its performance. But Aselsan needs to come up with a better and catchier name.

The other changes are under the skin. The main machinery has 10.000 more horsepower making TCG Burgazada faster than the other Ada class ships.

TCG Burgazada has Aselsan made Hızır countermeasure system for torpedo attacks. She is the first ship to be fitted with this system. The system consists of two decoy launchers on both sides of the funnel and one towed array and decoy. Though the system is very similar to Ultra built torpedo countermeasure system used on the other ships I believe the logistics of a locally built system is preferred by the end user.

One could still get “the new ship smell” when walking through the passageways.

I wish fair winds and following seas to TCG Burgazada and her crew.

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TCG Ufuk Launched

The previously unnamed test and evaluation ship has now a name and a pennant number: A-591 TCG Ufuk.

The ship, the first one in Turkish Navy to bear that name, was launched on 9th February 2019.

TCG Ufuk shows a striking resemblance to Ada class corvettes. Even some main physical attributes like the length, width, drought of the ships are the same. Here is a comparison chart:

TCG Ufuk Ada Class
Length (meters) 99,5 99,5
Width (meters) 14,4 14,4
Draft (meters) 3,6 3,9
Displacement (tons) 2400 2300
Speed (knots) 18+ 29

Two most obvious differences between this ship and the Ada class corvettes are that that TCG Ufuk doesn’t have any weapons.  The test and evaluation ship does have a flight deck to support 10-tonne class helicopters but does not have a hangar.

According to news reports, TCG Ufuk will have an all diesel main propulsion whereas the Ada class ships have a combined gas turbine and diesel engines as main propulsion. The top speed is given as 18+ knots, which is considerably slower than 29 knots top speed of Ada class corvettes.

During the launching ceremony, the President of Turkey Mr. Erdoğan told that this ship was the first intelligence gathering ship built by national means and mentioned the importance of signal intelligence.

The intelligence gathering mission of this ship may explain why the ship will have a 100 tons more displacement compared to Ada class corvettes despite having no weapons and the sensors associated with fire control and why its construction was not published much compared to other defense industry projects.

The commissioning of TCG Ufuk is scheduled for July 2020.

Test And Evaluation Ship Takes Shape

A CGI image of the Test and Evaluation Ship showing her general configuration. The lack of weapons, the enclosure of the section between the funnel and the mast are particularly striking features.

 

The project was first made public in a presentation made by Undersecreteriat for Defence Industries, (SSM) during the 7th Naval Systems Seminar in 2017. SSM simply told that they have signed a contract for a Test and Evaluation Ship.

More information was released in a presentation made by the engineering company STM during the same event. According to STM, they are the main contractor of a project, where one Test and Evaluation Ship (TaES) will be constructed by Istanbul Denizcilik Shipyard. The ship will have hull form of Ada class corvettes. Aselsan, as a subcontractor is responsible for the manufacturing of the mission systems to be used on board.

STM also shared the above photo. The ship showed there has a striking resemblance to Ada class corvettes. Two most obvious differences between this ship and the Ada class corvettes are this ship doesn’t have a gun in A position and any other weapons. The space between the mast and the funnel, where 8 Harpoon missiles are installed in Ada class ships doesn’t exist in the TaES. The aft of the superstructure is also slightly different. The superstructure aft of the funnel is larger since the TaES doesn’t have the STAMP remote-controlled gun system and anti-torpedo countermeasures system, the deck on which these systems are installed is added to the hull.

According to news reports, the TaEs will have an all diesel main propulsion whereas the Ada class ships have a combined gas turbine and diesel engines as main propulsion. The top speed of the TaES will be lower than Ada class corvettes.

Since TaES shares the same hull and superstructure of the Ada class corvettes, I believe the physical measurements of the TaES will be same or very similar of Ada class ships.

On the left are the mast and forward superstructure of the first Ada class corvette TCG Heybeliada. On the right are the mast and the forward structure of the Test and Evaluation Ship. Although the shape is similar, the number of supports on the mast of the TaES is much more compared to TCG Heybeliada. Obviously, more sensors will installed on TaES.

The stern view of the TaES and TCG Heybeliada. The TaES does have a flight deck and a hangar. But the shape of the superstructure at the aft is different.

TCG Burgazada Started Her Sea Trials

TCG Burgazada sets sail for her first cruise. Photo: SSM

Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) published photos from the first test cruise of TCG Burgazada on 20 March.
The photos show an unfinished ship sailing on the Marmara Sea. Though SSM did not disclose the exact date when the photos were taken it is assumed that they were taken on 19 March 2018.

The cruise conducted as part of the factory acceptance tests. The ship was launched on 18 June 2016 and is expected to be commissioned in September 2018


This photo also taken during the test cruise shows three interesting things:

  1. New Aselsan made HIZIR torpedo countermeasure system launcher is installed instead of Ultra SeaSentor system used in the first pair.
  2. The antennas of the Aselsan built ARES-2N ESM system is not mounted
  3. The back looking AselFLIR-300D has not been installed yet.

There is clearly a lot of work to do to finish the ship on time. I think the test on Monday was done to check the performance of the propulsion system, whether the engines were functioning properly, how did they react to the controls, whether the acceleration and deacceleration of the ship were within the limits.

I wish TCG Burgazada fair winds and following seas.

TCG Kınalıada Is Launched And TCG Istanbul Is Placed On Slipway

TCG Kınalıada, finally in her element and a few good men who build her. Photo: denizhaber.com

The fourth and last ship of Ada class corvettes, F-514 TCG Kınalıada was launched today, after 8 years and 9 months since first indigenous warship TCG Heybeliada left the slipway.

Today also marked the start of a new era of Turkish warship construction. The first module of  the frigate TCG Istanbul was laid on the slipway.

The first steel of the frigate was cut on 19. January 2017. The first model of the ship was constructed during the last 6 months. As Tuzla Naval Shipyard has only one slipway to accommodate new buildings, the launching of TCG Kınalıada created space for the frigate.

TCG İstanbul will be the prototype of the second generation of the Milgem class warships. There will be four of them: TCG İstanbul, TCG İzmir, TCG İzmit and TCG İçel. They are a modified version of Ada class corvettes. They will be about 14 meters longer but will have the same width as Ada class. The frigates will be 600 tons heavier.

Construction of TCG İstanbul is expected to be completed within the next 46 months with the intended commissioning date is 2021.

I wish TCG Kınalıada fair winds and following seas.

TCG Kınalıada Coming Along Nicely

TCG Burgazada (left) is in dry dock and being fitted out. TCG Kınalıada (right) is still on the slipway. Her shape indicates all major constructing is almost finished. She seems to be almost ready for launching in September.

There are some interesting steel blocks lying just to the left of the slipway. They can’t be made for TCG Kınalıada since her shape is full and there is no room to add these blocks. Thus they must the first blocks of TCG İstanbul. They will be placed on the slipway once TCG Kınalıada is launched.

The fitting out of the third Ada class (Milgem) corvette TCG Burgazada is proceeding on the dry dock. The fabrication of the hull of the fourth and final Ada class corvette TCG Kınalıada is almost finished.

The pre-fabrication of the first İ class frigate is continuing. First two blocks of the hull is ready to be placed on the slipway once the last Ada class corvette is launched.

18 March 2017 Naval Parade

On 18th March 2017, to commemorate the Turkish Victory over the Allied Armada 102 years ago a naval parade was held in Çanakkale.

10 ships two Ada class corvettes, 6 fast attack craft and 2 patrol boats took part in this years parade which was followed by a beautiful show of Turkish Air Force’s air demonstration team Turkish Stars.

The ships arrived in three rows. The east row was made of TCG Tufan, TCG Zıpkın and TCG Yıldız. The main row consisted of TCG Büyükada, TCG Heybeliada, TCG Türkeli and TCG Karabiga, all locally made warships. The west row had TCG Kılıç, TCG Mızrak and TCG Martı.

 

Turkish Navy fleet approaches the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, the largest Turkish military graveyard in the area.

TCG Büyükada was the lead ship.

TCG Heybeliada was following TCG Büyükada.

TCG Kılıç

TCG Mızrak

TCG Tufan

TCG Zıpkın

TCG Martı

TCG Türkeli

TCG Yıldız with TCG Karabiga in foreground.

The parade fleet as it was exiting Çanakkale Strait.

The show of Turkish Stars was breath-taking even for a ship spotter.

Click here for previous naval parades.

First Steel Cut For TCG Istanbul

The first steel for the new frigate TCG İstanbul was cut with ceremony. Photo: Arif Hüdaverdi Yaman, Anadolu Ajansı via Turkish MoD.

On 19 January 2017, first steel was cut for the Turkish frigate TCG İstanbul in Istanbul Naval Shipyard.

Defence Minister and Commander of Turkish Naval Forces attended the ceremony that marked the construction start of Turkey’s first indigenous frigate.

TCG İstanbul will be the first ship of a class of 4 frigates also known as İ (or İstif according to Turkish Naval spelling alphabet) class. The others will be called as TCG İzmir, TCG İzmit and TCG İçel.

The conceptual drawing of this new class was first revealed during the IDEF 2015 International Defense Industry Fair.

The new frigate will be about 14 meters longer but will have the same width as Ada class. TCG İstanbul will be 600 tons heavier and have a deeper draft due to the increased weapon load and other design changes.

The main gun is a 76mm with a stealth cupola. There is 16 cell Mk41 VLS system just behind the gun, for ESSM missiles.

The form of the bridge and the main mast is almost identical to the existing Ada class only slightly enlarge. There will be a Smart-S Mk2 radar and ARES-2 ESM suit on the mast.

One important difference between the ships is the number of the anti-ship missiles carried. The weapon load on İstif class will be the double of Ada class with 16 missiles launchers. This is the twice the usual load of the existing anti-ship missiles normally carried on Turkish warships.

Another difference is the selection of the self-defence weapons. While the Ada class has the Mk49 launcher for RAM anti-air missiles the İstif class will be fitted with a Mk15 Phalanx CIWS.

adavsistif

A comparison between Ada and İstif class

The above mentioned are the external differences between the two generation of Milgem ships. The internal changes are very hard to tell at this time. But nevertheless, one might safely say that the combat management system of the second generation will be an improved version of the first generation.

The construction of TCG İstanbul is expected to be completed within the next 46 months with the intended commissioning date 2021.

TCG Büyükada Back In Gulf Of Aden

mvlila

TCG Büyükada escorts M/V Lila. Photo: Turkish Naval Forces

After a considerable period of absence, Turkish Navy is back in Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.

In early September Turkish Prime Ministry Disaster & Emergency Management Authority dispatched an aid ship to Somaliland, Ethiopia and Putland. M/V Lila, loaded with 11 tons of aid, left Mersin, Turkey on 10 September 2016. Ada class corvette TCG Büyükada escorted the merchant ship on this voyage.

After the delivery of the aid, TCG Büyükada stayed in the region. She is now conducting anti-piracy patrols under Combined Task Force 151 command.

This is the second deployment of TCG Büyükada to the region. She was in the region  from January till April 2015, and evacuated 55 Turkish citizens trapped in Yemen.

More Milgem’s For Turkish Navy

f513_1

Coming soon to a slipway near you.

Turkish defence acquisition agency Undersecreteriat For Defence industries (UDI) has issued a request for proposal for 4 more Milgem class corvettes.

To be honest, I did not expect that UDI would prepare a tender for more Milgem class warships, adding a new twist to the long and winding project. The reasoning behind this move can be

  • to free Istanbul Naval Shipyard for further construction projects such as İ class
  • to give support and work to the Turkish private shipyards

The RfP documents has not much valuable information. The competition is open to Turkish shipyards. And the contenders must have a floating dock or a slipway at least 115 meter or longer. The dealine for delivering the proposals is 30th November 2016.

This second batch of four ships will probably have the same design and armament of the existing ships.

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