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Greek Coast Guard Fired Upon Turkish Flag Merchant Ship

Bullet holes on the funnel of M/V Act. Photo: denizhaber.com

A bizarre incident happened today off the coast of Rhodes. Greek Coast Guard fired 2 dozen rounds to the Turkish flagged merchant ship M/V Act to stop her.

According to Greek Coast Guard, the Port Authority on the island received an anonymous call that the ship was carrying drugs. Thus the Greek authorities intercepted M/V Act. The merchant ship however refused to sail to Rhodes as ordered and changed her course to Turkey. Since the warning shot to the bow of the ship did not deter them to go to Turkish waters shots were fired to the funnel of M/V Act.

According to Turkish General Staff, two Turkish Coast Guard vessels and one Turkish Navy fast attack craft was sent to the area.

It is not clear at the moment there the merchant ship is exactly heading and whether Turkish Coast Guard will board the ship and search for the alleged narcotics.

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TCG Giresun Escorts Turkish Aid Ship To Somalia

M/V Sebat leaving Mersin harbour. Photo: AFAD.

On 4. June 2017, bulk carrier M/V Sebat, left Turkey with 13 thousand tons of food and aid on board. The ship’s destination is Mogadishu, Somalia.

The cargo on board of M/V Sebat was organised by Turkish Red Crescent, Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD).

The ship will be escorted by Turkish frigate TCG Giresun. In pervious years Turkish Navy, provided protection to other ships, carrying humanitarian aid from Turkey to the region.

After escorting the aid ship to her destination TCG Giresun will join the piracy task force CTF-151 and perform patrols in Gulf of Aden. There is a Seahawk helicopter a diving chamber, one naval special forces team and one VBSS team on board. The ship will return to Turkey in November 2017.

This is the fifth deployment of TCG Giresun to the region. She was there in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015.

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 Conducting Simultaneous Port Visits In 5 Countries

TCG Oruçreis arrives in Varna. Photo: Nikolay Zlatev.

10 Turkish warships are conducting port visits in 5 different ports, in 5 different countries.

The long needed rest came after the end of the first phase of naval exercise Deniz Yıldızı 2017. The exercise has started on 27 March and will end on 7 April.

Of course the small size of the Black Sea helps. But Turkey is the only Black Sea 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.

This is the list of the ships doing port visits. Most of them  will be open for public to visit.

Name Type Port Country
TCG Oruçreis Frigate Varna Bulgaria
TCG Tuzla Patrol Boat Varna Bulgaria
TCG Kalkan Fast Attack Craft Batumi Georgia
TCG Yıldırım Frigate Batumi Georgia
TCG Turgutreis Frigate Constanta Romania
TCG Yıldız Fast Attack Craft Constanta Romania
TCG Büyükada Corvette Novorossiysk Russia
TCG Barbaros Frigate Novorossiysk Russia
TCG Heybeliada Corvette Odessa Ukraine
TCG Gaziantep Frigate Odessa Ukraine

TCG Büyükada Back In Gulf Of Aden

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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.

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.

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