The SNMG-2 Is Back In Istanbul

The flagship of the SNMG-2 HMNLS Eversten in Istanbul.

Turkish contribution to SNMG-2, TCG Yıldırım in Istanbul after sailing the Black Sea for 21 days.

On 29 March four ships of NATO Standing Maritime Force 2 transited northbound through Turkish Straits and entered the Black Sea.

This was the start of the task force’s first Black Sea deployment in 2019.

The French National Marine contribution to the SNMG-2 FS Var also arrived in Istanbul but she did not proceed to the Black Sea with the rest of the group. She remained in the city for a 4-day port visit and later returned to France as her deployment with the task force was over.

Once in the Black Sea Bulgarian frigate, Drazki and Romanian frigate Regele Ferdinand joined the task force before SNMG-2 split in two.

The Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto and the Spanish frigate ESPS Santa Maria sailed to Odessa, Ukraine. According to NATO press release, while in Odesa, the ship captains meet with local military and elected officials, worked with Ukrainian Navy personnel and welcomed local Ukrainian civilians aboard during scheduled open ship periods.

The Canadian and Spanish frigates conducted PASSEX with Ukrainian Matka class (Project 206 MP) corvette Priluki. This exercise was dutifully observed by the Russian intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs.

Turkish town Trabzon was the first stop for the remaining four ships of the task force namely HMNLS Eversten the flagship, TCG Yıldırım, BGS Drazki, and ROS Regele Ferdinand. Following a short 3-day visit, they have sailed to Poti Georgia. Like in Ukraine, following the visit to Poti, SNMG-2 ships conducted a Passing Exercise with the Georgian Coast Guard vessels.

The task force joined in Romanian port Constanta prior to the start of the largest multinational naval exercise in Romania’s territorial waters and in the international waters of the Black Sea: Sea Shield 2019. The Spanish frigate left the taskforce and exited the Black Sea before the task force’s arrival in Romania.

In addition to the ships of SNMG-2, the Greek fast attack craft HS Ritsos, Bulgarian corvette BGS Bodri, and Romanian frigate ROS Marasesti, corvettes ROS Contraamiral Macellariu, ROS Contraamiral Horia Macellariu, missile-carrying fast attack craft ROS Pescarusul, ROS Zborul, minesweepers ROS Lieutenant Lupu Dinescu, ROS Lieutenant Dimitrie Nicolescu also took part, along with Romanian detachment of EOD divers, two mobile anti-ship missile launchers and other support units.

According to the Romanian Defence Ministry approximately 2,200 troops, took part in the exercise who practiced against underwater, surface and air threats, adapted to the typology of security threats in the Black Sea region. The scenario of the exercise was fictional and aimed planning and execution of crisis response operations under the mandate of Security Council resolutions of the United Nations (UNSC), in the context of a security environment characterized by symmetrical and asymmetrical threats.

SNMG-2 exited the Black Sea on 17th April and arrived in Istanbul for a well-deserved port visit. HMNLS Eversten and TCG Yıldırım berthed while HMCS Toronto sailed to the Mediterranean without stopping in the city.

French replenishment tanker FS Var. She arrived in Istanbul with the rest of the task force but did not enter the Black Sea.

Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto. This photo was taken when she was passing through Istanbul. She spent 21 days in the Black Sea and left it sailing directly to the Mediterranean.

This is Spanish frigate ESPS Santa Maria passing northbound through Istanbul. She stayed only 7 days in the Black Sea before exiting it while the rest took part in the Sea Shield naval exercise.

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NATO Naval Taskforces End Their Deployment To The Black Sea

The flagship of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two FGR Rhein, during her southbound transit through Istyanbul.

Turkish contribution to Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two, TCG Anamur making her southbound passage through Istanbul as the taskforce departs from the Black Sea. A new minehunter will replace her for the future deployment of SNMCMG-2.

On early July, flagships of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein arrived in Bulgarian port Burgas for the Bulgarian led exercise Breeze 2018. Replenishment ship FS Marne of Marine Nationale and Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos followed them. BREEZE 2018 from 13 to 20 July.

The exercise was designed to enhance the interoperability of the participating units and strengthen cooperation by practicing different warfare techniques in a multi-dimensional scenario. Multinational participating forces and their crews will be tested in a wide range of warfare tactics focusing on regional security.

Bulgaria as host took part with 16 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 2 helicopters and staff of 930 members. Two aircraft of the Bulgarian Air Force and units of the Land Forces were also involved in the exercise with most ships. Turkey was the second largest contributor to the exercise with TCG Fatih for SNMG-2 and minehunter TCG Anamur for SNMCMG-2, submarine TCG Gür, fast attack craft TCG İmbat and one patrol plane.

In total 25 combat and auxiliary ships and cutters, 1 submarine, 4 aircraft, 5 helicopters and 2,340 service members from the navies of Bulgaria, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, the USA, Turkey, France, the Netherlands took part in the exercise, which was held from 13th to 20th July.

Following the conclusion of the exercise Sea Breeze Greek fast attack craft HS Daniolos and French replenishment tanker, FS Marne exited the region while the remaining ships of both NATO Standing Maritime Groups made a port visit in Odessa between 23rd and 25th July. During this port visit, the warships were warships were open to the public. According to the Turkish Navy, TCG Fatih and TCG Anamur have hosted 2413 visitors for 6 hours when they were open to the public.

After the port visit, all NATO warships conducted a passing exercise (PASSEX) with Ukrainian naval forces. The flagship of the Ukrainian Navy Hetman Sagaidachny and warships BerdyanskVyshgorod, Kremenchuk, Lubny, and Pochaiv also took part in this PASSEX.

Upon leaving Odessa, NATO naval task forces separated. While SNMCMG-2 sailed towards Constanta Romania to conduct mine warfare exercise with Romanian Navy, SNMG-2 sailed to Samsun Turkey.

On the first day of August 2018, both HNLMS De Ruyter and FGS Rhein departed from the Black Sea ending their deployment in the region.

TCG Akçay Discovers An Old Mine Off Romanian Coast

M-270 TCG Akçay, seen here passing northbound through Istanbul 16 days ago.

Aydın class minehunter TCG Akçay has discovered a mine probably a relic of Second World War, as she was conducting training operations with SNMCMG-2 off the coast of Romania.

The NATO task force made its northbound passage through Turkish Straits 16 days ago.

The mine was discovered at 8 A.M. local time while TCG AKÇAY, under the command of Turkish Navy Lieutenant Commander Abdulla Yildiz, was using her mine hunting sonar to scan the sea bed and the water below her. The crew detected an object, which was thought to be a potential mine.  TCG AKÇAY then used her Remote Controlled Mine Discovery Vehicle (RCMDV) to investigate the possible mine further.  The RCMDV is remotely controlled from the mine hunter and used to identify mine-like objects using an onboard camera. If necessary, the RCMDV can also lay a 100kg explosive charge to destroy the mine.

SNMCMG2 was conducting mine countermeasure training with the Romanian Navy just off the Romanian coast near Constanta when the historic ordinance was discovered.  The area in question is shown on maritime charts as a formally mined area and this means that this is likely to be an historic mine.  The mine sits on the seabed at approximately 40 metres depth.  Images show that the mine is still attached to the ‘sinker’ or weight, which means that it likely didn’t deploy correctly when it was laid. Normally these mines were suspended mid water, attached to the weight on the seabed.

“Finding this historic mine demonstrates NATO’s capability to find uncharted mines in the Black Sea,” said Royal Navy Commander Justin Hains, Commander of SNMCMG2. “We work hard to practice our skills to ensure safe sea lanes. Identification and disposal of historic ordnance is just part of the mission.”

NATO is liaising with the Romanian authorities with regards to the neutralization or disposal of the mine

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

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

HMS Duncan Ended Her Black Sea Visit

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HMS Duncan heads to the Mediterranean Sea. TCSG-312 passes by.

Royal Navy warship HMS Duncan made an official visit to Romania between 8 and 11 November 2015.

HMS Duncan entered the Black Sea on 7 November and exited on 15 November.

The visit of HMS Duncan to Constanta, Romania was not just a cordial visit. The Embassy of the United Kingdom and Great Britain and Northern Ireland in collaboration with the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organization organized 9 November on Board of HMS Duncan an exhibition promoting British defence industry technologies.

During the event UK Ambassador Paul Brummell thanked the 13 UK companies participating the event and emphasised that UK companies can provide technology and products that may help Romania to fulfil its ambitious plan to modernise its navy.

Romanian Navy currently operates two Royal Navy Type 22 frigates ROS Regina Maria (ex London) and ROS Regele Ferdinand (ex Coventry). These ships were overhauled in UK before their delivery to Romania in 2003 -2004 period. But further upgrade is needed. Armed with only guns and torpedoes these ships lack long-range offensive weapons and adequate air defence systems.

Sea Breeze 2015 Naval Exercise Concludes In Ukraine

TCG Bozcaada arriving ODeesa for Sea Breeze 2015 exercise.

TCG Bozcaada arriving Odessa for Sea Breeze 2015 exercise. Photo: Igor More.

The Ukrainian led exercise Sea Breeze 2015 finished today. The exercise had stared on 31 August 2015 and had a land and a sea phase.

Warships from Romania, Turkey, USA and Ukraine has participated to the sea phase of the exercise. The exercise was attended by 2,5 thousand military personnel not only from the United States and Ukraine, but also from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, the UK, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and Moldova. According to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the purpose of the exercise is to develop of a multinational security operations in crisis region.

This is the list of the participating ships. The number of the ships was vague. Some publications cited 19 ships other 14 ships. Some even wrote that there would be submarines. But since Turkish Navy did not deployed a submarine to this exercise the anti submarine warfare training had to be done by a simulator.

Number Name Type Nationality
111 Mărăşeşti Frigate Romania
264 ROS Cam. Eustaţiu Sebastian Corvette Romania
F-500 TCG Bozcaada Corvette Turkey
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachny Frigate Ukraine
U-153 Priluki Missile boat Ukraine
U-360 Genichesk Mine sweeper Ukraine
U-401 Kirovgrad Landing ship Ukraine
BG-109 BG-109 Patrol boat Ukraine
U-120 Skadovsk Patrol boat Ukraine
U-705 Kremenets Tug Ukraine
BG-63 Pavel Derzhavin Patrol boat Ukraine
BG-50 Grigory Kuropiatnikov Patrol boat Ukraine
75 Donald Cook Destroyer USA

SNMG-2 Arrived In Constanta

SNMG2 exercising with Turkish Navy

SNMG-2 exercising with Turkish Navy in the Black Sea. Photo: NATO MARCOM

After spending the week on the high seas, the ships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 arrived in Constanta, Romania, on 13 March 2015 for a scheduled 3 day port visit.

SNMG2 is currently composed of the flagship CG-69 USS Vicksburg, 337 HMCS Fredericton, F-241 TCG Turgutreis, A-1442 FGS Spessart, F-574 ITS Aliseo and F-222 ROS Regina Maria.

According to the spokesperson of the Naval Forces General Staff, lieutenant-colonel Corneliu Pavel, during the stopover in Romania of the SNMG-2, scheduled between March 13-15, visits of the foreign military officials are programmed at the Fleet Command, as well as sporting competitions between the Romanian and foreign sailors that will be hosted on the campus of the Mircea cel Batran Naval Academy and visits by the crews of the ships to the Romanian Navy Museum. 

“The SNMG-2 activities will continue at sea, starting with Monday, March 16, with exercises being programmed together with the Marasesti frigate, two corvettes, two missile-bearing ships, as well as with Romanian military airships”, the spokesperson added. 

Updated: USS Mount Whitney Is Making Port Visit In Constanta

The flagship of the US Navy 6th Fleet LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney is currently in Constanta, Romania.

Her first port of call was Burgas, Bulgaria. She spent here 5 days. Her next port of call was Batumi, Georgia where she arrived on 11 November. After conducting some joint exercises with Georgian naval forces, USS Mount Whitney has left Batumi on 13 November.

She will stay in Romania until 19 November according to a press release of the US Embassy in Bucharest:

The U.S. 6th Fleet flagship, USS Mount Whitney, home ported in Gaeta, Italy, will visit Constanta November 15 to November 19 on a routine port call. While in Constanta the ship’s crew will conduct joint training and information exchanges with Romanian counterparts and host a reception for distinguished guests.

The Mount Whitney serves as the Command Ship for Commander, SIXTH Fleet/Commander, Joint Command Lisbon/Commander, Striking Force NATO. Captain Craig Clapperton is the Commanding Officer and the ship has 12 officers, 150 enlisted personnel, and 150 Civilian Mariners from Military Sealift Command. The Mount Whitney participated in Operation Odyssey Dawn off the coast of Libya in 2011 and provided humanitarian relief to Georgia in 2008.

UPDATE: I have been corrected by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa through Twitter that USS Mount Whitney arrived to Constanta one day later than scheduled due to inclement weather.

The Mysterious Boat On Bosphorus Identified

The handover ceremony of the Italian patrol boat to Romanian Border Guard. Photo: Romanian Embassy  in Italy

The handover ceremony of the Italian patrol boat to Romanian Border Guard. Photo: Romanian Embassy
in Italy

The boat from my previous post has been identified as a Bigliani class patrol boat.

I thank everyone who shared his/her information and made comments. Your help and support is as always very much appreciated.

This is the official announcement of the handover ceremony in late May 2013:

On 27 May 2013, in the presence of Inspector General of the Romanian Border Police, John BUDA Quaestor Police Chief, and Finance Guard Assistant Commandant-General Emilio Spaziale corps, at the Nautical School of Finance Guard to Gaeta held official handover ceremony of two class ship “Bigliani” Finance Guard fitted to the Romanian Border Police. At the event, the Romanian Embassy in Italy has participated Adina LOVIN prime collaborator.

Delivery and reception of the two vessels, which were divested Free Italian Finance Guard, was made ​​under the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Administration and Interior of Romania and the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Italy in collaboration informative to combat economic crime financial , signed in Bucharest on 14 December 2005.

Background elements

Finance Guard’s police force with military status under the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic, with competent bodies under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Romania made an intensive cooperation, according to the Memorandum of Understanding signed on 14 December 2005

 

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