Breeze 2016 Naval Exercise

Bulgaria is hosting the Breeze 2016 naval exercise from 8. July till 17. July 2016.

As many as 25 naval vessels from Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Spain and Turkey, two aircraft and two helicopters, and 1700 troops will take part in the exercise.

Turkish led NATO mine task force SNMCMG-2 is also in Bulgaria for this occasion.

This is the list of the participating warship That I could find:

Number Name Nation Type
A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasanpaşa Turkey Tender
M-260 TCG Edincik Turkey Mine hunter
M-34 SPS Turia Spain Mine hunter
62 ROM Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente Romania Mine sweeper
 S-356 TCG Anafartalar Turkey Submarine
P-1207 TCG Tekirdağ Turkey Patrol boat
P-337 TCG Atak Turkey Fast attack craft
F-222 ROM  Regina Maria Romania Frigate
190 ROM Lastunul Romania Corvette
P-70 HS Y. Grigorpoulos Greece Fast attack craft

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.

 

Dynamic Manta 2016 Has Started

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Turkey is participating to the DYMA 2016 with one CN-235 ASW plane, the submarine TCG Dolunay and a

One of the largest anti submarine warfare exercises organised by NATO has started to-day off the coast of Sicily.Exercise Dynamic Manta 2016 will be held in Central Mediterranean where the ports and airbases on the island will host ships, submarines and air planes. The exercise will end of 4th March 2016.

Submarines from France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, under the control of NATO Submarine Command (COMSUBNATO), will join 4 surface ships from France, Italy and Spain. Host nation Italy is providing support from the Augusta Naval Base, Catania Harbour and the Sigonella Air Base in Catania.

To support the simulated multi-threat environment, 9 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States will operate from Sigonella Air Base under the control of personnel from NATO Maritime Air Command (COMMARAIRNATO).

The aim of this exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard to safety.
NATO has not published a list of participants yet but I was able to find the names of the following units:

Number Name Type Country
D-642 FS Montcalm Frigate France
A-608 FS Var Tanker France
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
S-121 HS Pipinos Submarine Greece
S-73 SPS Mistral Submarine Spain
F-81 SPS Santa Maria Frigate Spain

 

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.

 

NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 Conducts Training In Marmara Sea

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Spanish mine hunter ESPS Tambre (left) and the Bulgarian mine sweeper BGS Shkval (right). Photo: SNMCMG-2

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The flagship of the task force TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasanpaşa. Photo: SNMCMG-2

The task force has started its recent activities in Turkish naval base in Erdek, Balıkesir in early January. Erdek is the home port of the Turkish mine hunter ships. TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Paşa replaced her sister TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa as the flagship of the task force. Following this change the task force sailed to the Aegean Sea to conduct a port visit in İzmir and some training activities in Saros Bay in Northern Aegean.

The ships of NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 passed through Çanakkale Strait on 27 January 2015 and entered Marmara Sea. Later in this month the task force will sail through Istanbul Strait and enter the Black Sea to participate in Bulgarian mine counter measures exercise Poseidon between 20 and 27 February 2016.

TCG Edremit Joins NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2

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M-262 TCG Enez, sister ship to TCG Edremit. Photo: Devrim Yaylalı

The Engin class mine hunter, M-261 TCG Edremit has joined NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2. She will remain deployed till 24 April 2016. and will spend 72 days on sailing.

SNMCMG-2, under the Command of Turkish Navy, made a port visit to Izmir between 15 and 17 January 2015. The other port visits planed for SNMCMG-2 will be in Çanakkale, Erdek, İstanbul, Burgas, Batumi, Patras, Koper, Bar, Split, Venice, Bari and Toronto.

Between 20 and 27 February 2016, SNMCMG-2 will take part in Poseidon Naval Exercise organised by Bulgarian Navy. The task force will also take part in Exercise Ariadne, organised by Greek Navy between 4 and 13 March 2015.

This is the current composition of SNMCMG-2:

Number
Name
Nation
Type
A-579 TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasanpaşa Turkey Flagship
M-261 TCG Edremit Turkey Mine hunter
M-33 SPS Tambre Spain Mine hunter
62 BGS Shkval Bulgaria Mine sweeper

UPDATED: Anti Submarine Warfare Exercise Dynamic Manta 2015 Started In Italy

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TCG Yıldırım in Çanakkale in March 2015. She is taking part in Dynamic Manta with SNMG-2

The largest anti submarine warfare exercise NATO holds in the Mediterranean has started in Italy.

The exercise Dynamic Manta formerly known as Noble Manta kicked on 12 September 2015 in Sicily. The Augusta Naval Base and the Sigonella Air Base in Catania are full with participating naval and air units.

Submarines from France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, will join 5 surface ships from France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the United States. To support the simulated multi-threat environment, 7 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters from Canada, France, Italy, Turkey and the United States will operate from Sigonella Air Base

The aim of this exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard to safety. During the exercise, an analysis team of ASW experts (In-stride Debrief Team) will be located in Sigonella Air Base. The team will analyse anti-submarine warfare events real time and will provide debriefs to ships, submarines and aircrews. It allows crew to accelerate their process, make adjustments, improve the performance and boost the anti-submarine warfare readiness.

UPDATE: As usual I have tried to find out the participating naval units and I have succeed it with the exception of the US submarine. Thanks to Victor M.S. Barreira and D_Mitch, for detailed info on participating surface units.

Any corrections and additions are welcomed.

Number Name Type Nationality
D-643 FS Jean De Vienne Destroyer France
 S-606  FS Perle Submarine France
F-220 FGS Hamburg Frigate Germany
S-116 HS Posedion Submarine Greece
 F-571  ITS Grecale Frigate Italy
S-522  ITS Salvatore Pelosi Submarine Italy
 S-73  ESPS Mistral Submarine Spain
F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
S-353 TCG Preveze Submarine Turkey
 S-96  HMS Ambush Submarine UK
75  USS Porter Destroyer USA

Anti Submarine Warfare Exercise Dynamic Manta 2015 Started In Italy

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TCG Yıldırım in Çanakkale in March 2015. She is taking part in Dynamic Manta with SNMG-2

The largest anti submarine warfare exercise NATO holds in the Mediterranean has started in Italy.

The exercise Dynamic Manta formerly known as Noble Manta kicked on 12 September 2015 in Sicily. The Augusta Naval Base and the Sigonella Air Base in Catania are full with participating naval and air units.

Submarines from France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, will join 5 surface ships from France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and the United States. To support the simulated multi-threat environment, 7 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Helicopters from Canada, France, Italy, Turkey and the United States will operate from Sigonella Air Base

The aim of this exercise is to provide all participants with complex and challenging warfare training to enhance their interoperability and proficiency in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare skills, with due regard to safety. During the exercise, an analysis team of ASW experts (In-stride Debrief Team) will be located in Sigonella Air Base. The team will analyse anti-submarine warfare events real time and will provide debriefs to ships, submarines and aircrews. It allows crew to accelerate their process, make adjustments, improve the performance and boost the anti-submarine warfare readiness.

As usual I have tried to find out the participating naval units. It the next few days with the emerge of more information regarding the exercise I hope to complete the list. Thanks to Victor M.S. Barreira for detailed info on participating surface units.

Any corrections and additions are welcomed.

Number Name Type Nationality
D-643 FS Jean De Vienne Destroyer France
Submarine France
F-220 FGS Hamburg Frigate Germany
S-116 HS Posedion Submarine Greece
 F-571  ITS Grecale Frigate Italy
Submarine Italy
Submarine Spain
F-243 TCG Yıldırım Frigate Turkey
S-353 TCG Preveze Submarine Turkey
Submarine UK
75  USS Porter Destroyer USA
Submarine USA

Sea Shield 2015 Naval Exercise

TCG Atılay passing through Istanbul, on her way to the Sea Shiel 2015 naval exercise in Romania. Photo: Alper Böler. Used with permission.

TCG Atılay passing through Istanbul, on her way to the Sea Shiel 2015 naval exercise in Romania. Photo: Alper Böler. Used with permission.

The Romanian led naval exercise Sea Shield 2015 has started on 20 July 2015.

The exercise will last till 24 July 2015 and is aimed at developing international cooperation in the defense area with similar structures of NATO member and partner states to strengthen and develop common procedures for battle.

Anti submarine warfare training is an important aspect of the exercise. The Turkish submarine S-347 TCG Atılay is acting as the hunter and the hunted. Turkey is the only NATO country that has operational submarines in the Black Sea. TCG Atılay is the first foreign submarine to visit Constanta in 7 years.

Of the other NATO countries Bulgaria has decommissioned its sole Romeo (Project 633) class BNS Slava in 2011 and terminated Bulgaria’s submarine force after 94 years. And Romania has one Kilo (Project 636) class submarine ROS Delfinul, which is in reserve status.

Standing NATO Maritime Group One is taking part in this exercise while SNMCMG-2 has left the Black Sea on 14 July 2015.

Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachny is also taking part in this exercise.

Below is the list of the participants to this exercise:

Number Name Type Nationality
11 BGS Smeli Corvette Bulgaria
P-68 Daniolos Attack craft Greece
F-803 HNLMS Tromp Frigate Netherlands
F-334 NRP Francisco De Almeida Frigate Portugal
30 ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente Mine hunter Romania
188 ROS Zborul Corvette Romania
190 ROS Lăstunul Corvette Romania
264 ROS Cam. Eustaţiu Sebastian Corvette Romania
265 ROS Cam. Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdinand Frigate Romania
F-222 ROS Regina Maria Frigate Romania
ROS Grozavul Tug Romania
F-240 TCG Yavuz Frigate Turkey
S-347 TCG Atılay Submarine Turkey
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachny Frigate Ukraine

Bulgaria Hosts Breeze 2015 Naval Exercise

TCG Enez (left) and TCG Barbaros (right) on their way to Varna. Both are taking part in Breeze 2015 exercise with  NATO SNMCMG-2 task force.

TCG Enez (left) and TCG Barbaros (right) on their way to Varna. Both are taking part in Breeze 2015 exercise with NATO SNMCMG-2 task force.

Bulgaria is hosting Breeze 2015 naval exercise from 3 to 12 July 2015. According to Bulgarian minisry of Defence 30 warships from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey and USA will take part.
Bulgaian Navy will contribute with 15 combat and auxiliary ships and boats, two helicopters and more than 1,000 personnel.

The main objective of the exercise is to improve the interoperability and interaction between the Navy included therein countries by practicing their participation in Operation in response to the crisis. Nineteenth edition of “Breeze” will contribute to improving cooperation in multinational environment with 21 state organizations, institutions and agencies from four ministries, local authorities and non-governmental and private organizations. Within the exercise will obtain certification of a ship of the Navy the Republic of Bulgaria – mine hunter “Tsibar” according to the methodology for assessment of NATO MAREVAL. Host of “Breeze 2015” Point is basing Varna Naval Base – Navy. July 6 (Monday) at 15.00. To 18.00. Of foreign warships based at Port Varna and Port Varna will be open to the citizens and visitors.

 

As usual, I have tried to find information about the participants. This is the list as far as I could compiled.

Number Name Type Nationality
F-244 TCG Barbaros Frigate Turkey
M-262 TCG Enez Mine hunter Turkey
M-36 ESPS Tajo Mine hunter Spain
S-350 TCG Yıldıray Submarine Turkey
P-336 TCG Zıpkın Attack craft Turkey
F-334 NRP Francisco De Almeida Frigate Portugal
F-803 HNLMS Tromp Frigate Netherlands
DDG-78 USS Porter Destroyer USA
189 Pescarusul Attack craft Romania
32 BGS Tsibar Mine hunter Bulgaria
41 BGS Drazki Frigate Bulgaria
42 BGS Verni Frigate Bulgaria
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