SNMG-2 Ships Arrived In Samsun

NATO SAVAŞ GEMİLERİ SAMSUN’DA NATO'YA AİT İKİ SAVAŞ GEMİSİ SAMSUN LİMANI'NA DEMİR ATTI

HMCS St. John’s in Samsun harbour. Photo: samsunkenthaber.com

Today, Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan De Borbon and Canadian frigate HMCS St. John’s constituting, Standing NATO Martime Group 2, Task Unit 2 arrived in Samsun, Turkey.

The ships  will stay in Samsun for 3 days. They have left Varna, Bulgaria on last Monday with the Bulgarian warship Reshitelni and spend the rest of the week cruising the Black Sea.

The ships have sailed to the Black Sea on 31st January and can stay only 21 days in the region. This means that the ships must make their southbound passage through Bosphorus in the next four days.

 

 

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NATO Maps The Pattern Of Life In The Med

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From top HS Navarinon, TCG Gaziantep and ITS Aviere. Photo: from Turkish Navy official web site

NATO Maritime Command has started a focused operation to map, patterns of life in the Mediterranean.

This focused operation is led by Captain Emre Sezenler, Commodore of 2. Destroyer Flotilla of Turkish Navy and TCG Gaziantep acts as his flagship. Italian frigate ITS Aviere and Greek frigate HS Navarinon are the other components of this task force.

Below is the press release about the operation:

NORTHWOOD, United Kingdom (Feb. 7, 2017) – Three NATO ships, provided by Turkey, Italy and Greece are dedicating specific attention to portions of the eastern Mediterranean Sea over the next couple of weeks in what is called an Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) focused operation.

Operation Sea Guardian is a standing Maritime Security Operation with three main tasks, Maritime Situational Awareness, counter-terrorism and regional capacity building. As a standing operation, it is continually active through a network of ships and maritime operations centers providing information about Maritime Situational Awareness. This baseline is augmented by focused operations that concentrate on specific areas of interest.

Focused operations dedicate various types of assets under NATO operational control to developing and maintaining an accurate picture of daily activity in various parts of the Mediterranean Sea. This information builds what is called Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) which is shared across the Alliance and can be used to help identify possible security concerns while at the same time increasing cooperation, flexibility and strength through unified effort.

his is the first focus operation of 2017 and the second since Operation Sea Guardian was initiated on November 9, 2016. The first focus operation provided Allied navies information on daily patterns of life near shipping routes and fishing grounds in the central Mediterranean in order to support building a greater MSA across the Alliance.

The operation as a whole is about the fusion of information to create a more comprehensive picture of daily activities in the Mediterranean. In addition to the details provided by these assets actively collecting information in specific areas, Allied nations’ forces support this operation in various ways through active, standby or associated support.

Sea Shield 2017 Naval Exercise

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Spanish warship ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon passed through Turkish Straits to take part in the exercise.

Once again Romania is hosting Sea Shield naval exercise. The exercise will take place between 1st and 11th February 2017. The exercise started with the planning and familiarization phase which will end on 5th February.

The participants have already arrived at the Romanian port Constanta for this year’s exercise. Besides, Romania, Bulgaria, Canada, Spain, Turkey and U.S.A. have deployed warships. The only submarine of the exercise is TCG Dolunay. She will play the role of the hunter and the hunted.

According to the press release of the Romanian Naval Forces, 2800 military personnel is taking part in the exercise. Romania will provide besides warships two mobile missile-launchers, a special-operation detachment, two MiG 21 Lancer airplanes and a medical-evacuation helicopter. Turkey has also dispatched one CN-235 ASW patrol plane.

This is the list of the participating naval units:

Number Name Type Country
11 BGS Smeli Frigate Bulgaria
340 HMCS St John’s Frigate Canada
F-221 ROS Regele Ferdnand Frigate Romania
111 ROS Marasesti Frigate Romania
265 ROS Admiral Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
264 ROS Admiral Eustatiu Sebstian Corvette Romania
190 ROS Lastunul Corvette Romania
188 ROS Zborul Corvette Romania
25 ROS Lieutenant Lupu Dunescu Mine sweeper Romania
29 ROS Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu Mine sweeper Romania
F-102 ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon Frigate Spain
F-242 TCG Fatih Frigate Turkey
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
78 USS Porter Destroyer USA

The Flagship Of SNMG-2 Is In Izmir

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FGS Sachsen in Izmir. Photo: Oktay Cömert. Used with permission.

The flagship of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG-2) FGS Sachsen is in Izmir for a liberty call.

The German Navy took over the lead of SNMG-2 in 22. December 2016 and frigate FGS Sachsen has replaced Dutch warship HNLMS De Ruyter as the flagship of the task force.

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FGS Sachsen in Izmir. Photo: Oktay Cömert. Used with permission.

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FGS Sachsen in Izmir. Photo: Oktay Cömert. Used with permission.

 

Nusret 2016 Mine Warfare Exercise

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Romanian mine sweeper ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente will take part in the Nusret 2016 mine warfare exercise. This photo is from her spring deployment.

Each year Turkish Navy organises a mine warfare exercise named after the famous minelayer Nusret.

This year the exercise will be held between 25 November and 4 December  2016, in İzmir Bay.

The aim of the exercise is to provide training for the planning and execution of mine warfare and to improve the interoperability in mine warfare, between warships from participant countries.

Turkish Armed Forces will take part with 7 mine hunters, one mine layer / command and control ship, one corvette, one patrol boat, one mine retriever, 3 Coast Guard vessels, one naval EOD team, one helicopter, 2 F-16C fighters and one C-130 cargo plane.

Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Romania and Spain will send one mine warfare ship. Belgium will take part with one autonomous underwater vehicle and its crew. Greece and Romania will each deploy one EOD team as well.

The below is the list of the participating warships as far as I could identify:

Number Name Type Country
63 BGS Priboy Mine sweeper Bulgaria
M-1058 FGS Fulda Mine hunter Germany
A-470 HS Aliakmon Command Greece
M-63 HS Kallisto Mine hunter Greece
30 ROS Sub Lieutenant Alexandru Axente Mine sweeper Romania
 M-36 ESPS Tajo Mine hunter Spain
F-511 TCG Heybeliada Corvette Turkey
M-265 TCG Alanya Mine hunter Turkey
M-266 TCG Amasra Mine hunter Turkey
M-267  TCG Ayvalık Mine hunter Turkey
M-269 TCG Anamur Mine hunter Turkey
M-260 TCG Edincik Mine hunter Turkey
M-261 TCG Edremit Mine hunter Turkey
M-262 TCG Enez Mine hunter Turkey
A-577 TCG Sokullu Mehmet Paşa Command Turkey
P-1206  TCG Karşıyaka Patrol ship Turkey

Further reading:

Nusret 2014

Nusret 2013

Nusret 2012

Nusret 2011

Nusret 2010

Mavi Balina 2016 Naval Exercise

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Romanian corvette, Contraamiral Horia Macellariu on her way to the Mavi Balina 2016 ASW exercise.

Yesterday, on 19th November 2016, anti submarine warfare exercise Mavi Balina (Blue Whale) has started. The exercise led by Turkish Navy will be held in Eastern Mediterranean.

The aim of the exercise is to increase the submarine warfare and ASW skill of the participating units. Turkish Navy is taking part with 4 frigates, one corvette and 5 submarines. Besides Turkey, Bulgaria, Canada, Pakistan, Romania, Spain and USA are also taking part in the exercise with warships.

The list of the participating units:

Number Name Type Country
41 BNS Verni Frigate Bulgaria
339 HMCS Charlottetown Frigate Canada
260 PNS Alamgir Frigate Pakistan
256 ROS Contraamiral Horia Macellariu Corvette Romania
A-15 ESPS Cantabria Tanker Spain
A-580 TCG Akar Tanker Turkey
F-245 TCG Oruçreis Corvette Turkey
F-492 TCG Gemlik Frigate Turkey
F-493 TCG Gelibolu Frigate Turkey
F-496 TCG Gökova Frigate Turkey
F-497 TCG Göksu Frigate Turkey
F-503 TCG Beykoz Corvette Turkey
P-344 TCG Rüzgar Missile boat Turkey
P-345 TCG Poyraz Missile boat Turkey
S-351 TCG Doğanay Submarine Turkey
S-352 TCG Dolunay Submarine Turkey
S-354 TCG Sakarya Submarine Turkey
S-358 TCG Çanakkale Submarine Turkey
S-359 TCG Burakreis Submarine Turkey
64 USS Carney Destroyer USA

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.

 

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