Port Visits of Turkish Warships During The Weekend

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TCG Salihreis arriving in Varna, Bulgaria. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev.

The Deniz Yıldızı 2016 naval exercise continues in Black Sea. According to Turkish General Staff, 25 warships and submarine plus 11 aircraft and helicopter takes part in the exercise.

As reported earlier, over the weekend the ships conducted port visits in many cities both in country and abroad. Here is the list of the ships and the ports they have visited during the weekend:

Name Type City Country
TCG Karayel Fast attack craft Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kemalreis Frigate Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kilimli Patrol boat Varna Bulgaria
TCG Yavuz Frigate Batumi Georgia
TCG Heybeliada Corvette Constanta Romania
TCG Kılıç Fast attack craft Constanta Romania
TCG Giresun Frigate Constanta Romania
TCG Ayvalık Mine hunter Amasra Turkey
TCG Yüzbaşı İhsan Tulunay Auxiliary İnebolu Turkey
TCG İmbat Fast attack craft İnebolu Turkey
TCG Turgutreis Frigate İnebolu Turkey
TCG Karadeniz Ereğli Patrol boat Kefken Turkey
TCG Akar Auxiliary Samsun Turkey
TCG Tufan Fast attack craft Samsun Turkey
TCG Barbaros Frigate Samsun Turkey
TCG Ertuğrul Landing ship Samsun Turkey
TCG Büyükada Corvette Sinop Turkey
TCG Göksu Frigate Zonguldak Turkey
TCG Bartın Corvette Odessa Ukraine
TCG Salihreis Frigate Odessa Ukraine

More Information About Operation Albatros

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TCSG Umut towing M/V Joudi. Photo: Turkish Coast Guard

The ships, taking part in Operation Albatos, the seizure of the Bolivian flagged cargo ship M/V Joudi have returned to Aksaz Naval Base.

More details about the Operation Albatros has emerged.The 13600 kilogram marijuana with a street value of 250 million USD was loaded to the ship in Tartus in Syria. All ports in Syria are controlled by the Mr Assad’s regime.

On 2 January 2015 the ship was spotted by a Turkish Coast Guard plane and was tracked. In the mean time the off shore patrol vessels TCSG Yaşam and TCSG Umut left their ports and proceeded to intercept the ship. During the transit of these cutters Turkey contacted Bolivia the flag state of the ship according to United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic In Narcotic Drugs And Psychotropic Subtances, article 17. After Bolivia has granted Turkey the right for the seizure.

On 5 January 2015 Turkish cutters closed on the target and demanded the cargo ship to stop allowed to be boarded. When M/V Joudi did not cooperated she found herself at the receiving end of the cutters powerful water cannon. But this was not enough to stop the ship. The vessel boarding search and seizure team had to fast rope to the ship.

After the ship was totally under control, narcotic detection dogs were brought on board. The stash was found inside one of the containers in the cargo bay.

This video shows the breefing on board of TCSG Yaşam today by the Commander of Turkish Coast Guard Rear Admiral Hakan Üstem:

This video is a complation of videos taken by the coast guard crew taken part in the operation:

 

Turkish Coast Guard Intercepts Cargo Ship With Drugs On Board

Operation Albatros.

Operation Albatros. The red line is the track of TCSG Umut. The blue line shows the route of TCSG Yaşam. The green line is the track of M/V Joudi.

On 5 January 2015, Turkish Coast Guard intercepted a Bolivian flagged vessel in international waters off Tobruk, Libya. The vessel was varying 13 tons of cannabis.

The seizure took place in international waters 55 nautical miles from Tobruk and 140 nautical miles from Create.

The target M/V Joudi was intercepted by two Turkish Coast Guard OPV’s TCSG Yaşam and TCSG Umut. TCSG Yaşam departed from Mersin and TCSG Umut departed from Marmaris. A maritime patrol plane from Turkish Coast Guard shadowed M/V Jourdi. The vessel boarding search and seizure team was supported by two narcotic detection dogs.

When M/V Jourdi departed from Syria, international drug traffic enforcement authorities were tipped of about the 13 tons of narcotics on board. Turkish Coast Guard started to track the ship on 3 January 2015.

In the mean time Turkey contacted the flag nation of the vessel, Bolivia and received a permission for the seizure operation.

Currently the captured vessels is under the command of Turkish Coast Guard and is heading to Turkey. although her exact destination is not known at the moment it is safe to assume that she is heading to Aksaz Naval Base in Marmaris; the nearest Turkish naval base.

According to Turkish jurisdiction Turkish Coast Guard is the maritime law enforcement agency and has the right to detain suspects.  So they are correct force to conduct such operation but just a couple of years ago such a bust by Turkish Coast Guard was not possible since then they did not have any vessel with that range. The commissioning Dost class off shore patrol vessels dramatically increased operational area of our coast guard.

TCG Büyükada Evacuates 55 Turkish Citizens From Aden

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TCG Büyükada in Aden, embarking the Turkish citizens on board. Photo: Official Turkish Navy photo.

 

Today, the Milgem class Corvette F-512 TCG Büyükada evacuated 55  Turkish citizens trapped in Yemen.

The corvette was deployed to the Gulf of Aden and was in the region since January. It is the first major operation for TCG Büyükada. This is also the first non combatant evacuation operation for any Milgem class warship.

The ship has more accommodation that its crew but the spare bunks are not enough for 55 civilians. TCG Büyükada will disembark the civilians in Djibouti where a Turkish Airline airplane will bring them home.

This is the official press release:

After the launch of the military operation in Yemen by the coalition forces under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, a meticulous work has been carried on for the evacuation of the Turkish citizens who are in Yemen and requesting their evacuation. During the whole process, ultimate care has been shown not to endanger the safety of our citizens, and a multifaceted approach has been pursued by considering all available options.

In this context, TCG Büyükada Frigate of the Turkish Naval Forces on mission in the adjacent waters completed the evacuation of 55 citizens who were in Aden. Our citizens will be taken firstly to Djibouti, and thence they will be transferred to Turkey by a Turkish Airlines aircraft.

We welcome the safe and sound evacuation of our citizens from Aden thanks to the devoted and skillful efforts of our relevant institutions and the initiated coordination.

Turkish Task Force Starts Its Circumnavigation Of Africa

TDGGTomorrow, on 17 March 2014, the Barbaros Turkish Maritime Task Group will leave Turkish Naval Base in Gölcük to starts its circumnavigation of Africa.

The task force will contain the frigates F-495 TCG Gediz, F-245 TCG Oruçreis, the corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada and the replenishment tanker A-595 TCG Yarbay Kudret Güngör.

During the deployment, which is expected to take 102 days, Barbaros TMTG will navigate round the African continent from west to east and will make 40 port visits in 28 countries and conduct military exercises with their navies.

It will be the first crossing of Cape of Hope by Turkish ships after 148 years. The ships will travel for about 15,000 nautical miles approximately 30,000 km throughout their sail.

This deployment is not just a navigational exercise of circumnavigation around Africa. It is also a powerful application of Turkish soft power to Africa. During the last decade Turkey finally realized that there is more Africa than just the Mediterranean countries where Turkey had links for centuries. With the discovery of sub Saharan Africa Turkish entrepreneurs started to do business with these countries. They were followed quickly by missions of Turkish Foreign Ministry and flights from Turkish Airlines.

As I learn more about the details of the activities planed during this deployment more I understand how much background work must have been done to make this happen. Below are the some highlights of the planned activities:

  • Turkish defence companies Meteksan, Otokar, TAI, Dearsan, Havelsan, Roketsan, Aselsan, STM will show their products in following cities:

Thema, Ghana
Lagos, Nigeria
Luanda, Angola
Dar es Salaam Tanzania
Mombasa, Kenya

  • Turkish Ministry of Health will conduct health checks and provide medical assistance in following cities:

Banjul Gambia
Dakar, Senegal,
Port of Sudan, Sudan

  • Military music bands will perform concerts in following cities:

Las Palmas, Spain
Conakry, Guinea
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Pointe-Noire, Congo
Cape Town, South Africa
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Mombasa, Kenya
Djibouti, Djibouti
Port of Sudan, Sudan

  • Members of Multinational Maritime Security Centre of Excellence will conduct maritime security and boarding training in following cities:

Lagos, Nigeria
Pointe-Noire, Congo
Luanda, Angola
Simon’s Town, South Africa
Mombasa, Kenya

  • There will be theoretical training in all ports of call.
  • Various high-ranking Turkish officers will visit their counterparts in 17 different cities.

This deployment of Barbaros TMTG is not just about hearts and minds either.

The frigate F-245 TCG Oruçreis will take part in Obangame Express Exercise between 19 and 21 April 2014. Obangame Express, conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa, is an at-sea maritime exercise designed to improve cooperation among participating nations in order to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea.  It focuses on maritime interdiction operation, as well as visit, board, search, and seizure techniques.

The two frigates and the corvette will conduct live missile firing exercise in Denel Overberg Test Range between 5 and 9 May 2014. There they will test their skills to the limits.

And when the Barbaros TMTG reaches Gulf of Aden it will conduct anti piracy operations between 5 and 11 June 2014.

This deployment is one of most meticulous prepared foreign deployments of Turkish Navy and a text-book example how nations can use their military to gain affection abroad. But not everybody is sharing my sentiments.

Admiral Nusret Güner, who had resigned to protest the Sledgehammer and other trials when he was expected to become the Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, after a 1.5-year tenure as the head of the Fleet Command, criticized the upcoming African campaign of the Turkish Navy, pointing out the tensions in the Black Sea over the Crimean crisis .

The Black Sea waters are boiling because of what’s happening in Crimea and Ukraine. The United States and Russia are playing chess. They make moves one after another. When there is an imminent risk of clash, it’s an unacceptable situation that the Turkish Naval Forces are engaged in an African campaign in a way that they weaken their presence in the region,” Güner told daily Hürriyet.

Güner said he considers the African campaign as a wrong move for one more reason, which is the current status of Turkish naval forces. “The Sledgehammer trial and other legal cases have weakened the professional experience and skills of the Navy staff,” he said.

I agree with Mr. Güner’s remarks that the Black Sea waters are boiling and the shady trials against the Turkish high-ranking officers mostly from Naval Forces has created a havoc among the ranks of Turkish Navy. But I do not think that these are enough reasons to cancel the deployment of Barbaros TMTG. As being the former Commander of Turkish Naval Fleet, he must be in a better situation to judge the strengths and weaknesses of our navy but if we cannot spare 2 frigates and one corvette out of our fleet of 16 frigates and 8 corvettes, then something is not correct.

Even if the points made by Mr. Güner are correct we have other means to counter them. We have a good fleet of submarines that can creep very close to Crimea and gather very important intelligence. If we have to show the flag in the Black Sea we have many fast attack craft and some long range coast guard vessels that can fulfill the mission even if we cannot spare any of the 14 frigates left.

It is a very big pity that because of the shady trials many aspiring high-ranking officers are behind the bars today. The loss of their collective expertise and experience is a big blow to our navy. But expertise and experience are not gained by staying at home. They are gained by daring to new adventures and going to places that are new. Barbaros TMTG is just going to do that.

TCG Gökçeada Escorts Somalia Bound Cargo Vessel

TCG Gökova escorting the merchant vessel M/V Aqua Luna in Gulf of Aden. Photo: Official Turkish Navy Photo.

TCG Gökçeada escorting the merchant vessel M/V Aqua Luna in Gulf of Aden. Photo: Official Turkish Navy Photo.

The Turkish frigate F-494 TCG Gökçeada escorted the merchant ship M/V Aqua Luna carrying Turkish aid to Somalia.

M/V Aqua Luna chartered by Turkish Red Crescent was carrying 90 thousand canned goods,  5 thousand tons of sugar, 5 thousand tons of flour and many other goods and machinery need to overhaul Somalia’s infrastructure.

I was assuming that this escort duty would be performed by TCG Gökova as she has been in the with SNMG-2. The departure of TCG Gökçeada to the region was not announced either by the Turkish Navy or The Turkish General Staff. Both organisations used to be open about these deployments in the past.

Now, Turkish Navy has again two warships “East of Suez”.

 

 

An Everyday Heroism? Turkish Sailors Take A 80 Miles Boat Ride In The Middle Of The Indian Ocean

The original text of the thank you note. Photo: Turkish General Staff.

The original text of the thank you note. Photo: Turkish General Staff.

Today, The Turkish General Staff website run a thank you note (an e-mail actually) from a recovering Turkish merchant sailor who got very ill when his ship was in Gulf of Aden 15 days ago.

According to the e-mail, the sailor, electrician officer on board of M/V Tuna 7 (in the actual e-mail the name of the ship is not mentioned but the maritime portal denizhaber.com confirmed the ship) got sick at very late night on 13th January 2013.

The ship was in a convoy protected by the Chinese Navy.  The Chinese warship offered help over the radio but this was not enough.

The Turkish frigate F-496 TCG Gökova was 80 miles away at this point but the ship send its RHIB any way with the executive officers, medical officer and a small security team on board. This team performed the first medical treatment to the ill sailor who was later transferred to a hospital in Salalah, Oman.

It is no easy feat to travel 80 miles on a small boat in the middle of pirate infested waters in the dead of the night to save a life. Hats off to those who made gave this episode a happy ending.

 

 

 

 

TCG Gökova Escorts Mogadishu Bound Cargo Vessel

F-496 TCG Gökova escorting M/V Aqua Luna.

F-496 TCG Gökova escorting M/V Aqua Luna. Photo: Official Turkish General Staff photo.

F-496 TCG Gökova escorting M/V Aqua Luna. Photo: Official Turkish General Staff photo.

F-496 TCG Gökova escorting M/V Aqua Luna.  The Mk-41VLS launcher is clearly visible.Photo: Official Turkish General Staff photo.

According to the announcement made by Turkish General Staff, the Turkish frigate F-496 TCG Gökova escorted the cargo vessel M/V Aqua Luna as she was carrying humanitarian cargo to Somalia. The Turkish owned and Monrovia flagged freighter left the port of Mersin in late November and passed through the Suez Canal on 30th November.

TCG Gökova escorted  the cargo vessel during her 2650 nautical miles long trip. M/V Aqua Luna was chartered by Turkish Red Crescent and was carrying undisclosed humanitarian aid to Somalia. The Trip took 11 days from the Suez Canal to Mogadishu.

Although it has not been officially announced yet it is highly possible for F-496 TCG Gökova to replace the F-492 TCG Gemlik in CTF-151.

The Wreck Of The Shot Down Turkish Plane Sighted And The Bodies Of The Pilots Recovered

Today Turkish general Staff published photos from the search and rescue salvage operations Turkish Navy is conducting off Syrian coast.

As reported earlier,  the research vessel, E/V Nautilus was able to send her ROVs and broadcast live images from the wreck of the Turkish reconnaissance airplane RF-4ETM. This broadcast also confirmed what we have been  fearining: The two pilots have died and their bodes were recovered from the bosom of the sea.

This is a short summary of the all naval operations explained by Turkish General Staff:

  • Between 22 and 26 June 2012, 1 frigate, 1 fact attack craft, 1 patrol boat, 2 Coast Guard vessels, 1 plane and four helicopters searched a  70×23 miles area. During this time about 30 floating items belonging to the plane have been found.
  • Between 26 June and 2 July 2012 the survey ship of Turkish Navy A-599 TCG Çeşme searched for the wreckage of the airplane with her side scan sonar at an average depth of 1230 meters. during this operation TCG Çeşme identified 8 large pieces.
  • Between 3 and 4 July, the research vessels E/V Nautilus broadcasted images for the 8 large pieces identified by TCG Çeşme before and found the bodies of the crew.
  • TCG İnebolu an ocean capable tug with a capacity from salvaging from 3000 meters depth recovered the bodies of the pilots and started to collect pieces from the wreckage of the aircraft.
  • TCG İnebolu and E/V Nautilus are continuing with the salvaging.

Here some photos published by Turkish General Staff:

For more photos and for the location information of the wreck click here.

E/V Nautilus Starts To Search For The Shot Down Turkish Plane

The last recorded position of E/V Nautilus and the location where the Turkish fighter plane crashed.

This was rumored repeatedly last week but now it is official. E/V Nautilus is helping Turkish Navy to locate and inspect the wreckage of RF-4ETM, shoot down by Syria.

The ship was in Istanbul for the preparations of her 2012 expedition to explore the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Cyprus.

She has departure from Istanbul on 29th June 2012 . Currently she is about to arrive at the crash location and start her mission. What makes this62 meters long  research vessel special and unique is the state-of-the-art exploration and telepresence technology has has on board.  The primary remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on board, named Hercules and Argus, are used to view the seafloor with high definition video, take environmental measurements and collect geological and biological samples. The two secondary exploration tools, the towfish named Diana and Echo, are used to utilize side-scan and subbottom sonar technology to explore the seafloor and seek out compelling targets for closer investigation and study.  Once her side-scan sonars have precisely located the wreck of the plane the ROV will allow us to see the plane and help us to understand how it was hoot down and most importantly if the pilots are still in the wreckage or not.

According to news there will be 4 Turkish naval officers on board during the mission and six warships plus three helicopters will support and protect the E/V Nautilus.

As the wreckage is inside the Syrian territorial waters and as the most of the E/V Nautilus‘ crew most notably Dr. Robert Ballard is from USA, I guess that some kind of a deal must have been struck between Turkey, Syria and USA for this mission.

Here is a video showing E/V Nautilus off the coast of Bodrum on Sunday morning, picking up some crew members transferred by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel. The frigate TCG Gelibolu and the fact attack craft  TCG Karayel can also be seen.

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