5 Feb 2017 1 Comment
Here are photos of foreign warships, that have passed through Bosphorus, last two weeks:
The list of the foreign warships passed through Istanbul Strait is here.
30 Apr 2016 1 Comment
Turkish maritime news portal Deniz Haber Ajansı ran a story about the Russian naval exercise scheduled in the Black Sea. According to the news Russian Navy has to cancel at least the amphibious landing part of the exercise due to the fact that Ropucha class landing ships Azov and Yamal were unavailable due to malfunctions. The Turkish portal quotes Ukrainian as their source and I was not able to verify content of the story through other means. But there is no smoke without fire.
Yamal made 3 Syrian deployments in this year and she was last seen on 22th February 2016 sailing north. Whereas Azov made only 2 Syrian deployments in 2016 and she was last seen sailing north on 19th February 2016. So both of them were absent for the last 68 days. This is a long pause suggesting that there actually might be some problems with these ships.
The arduous Syrian Express deployments seems to be taking toll on the auxiliary cargo ships of the Russian Navy as well. According to 7 Feet Beneath the Keel blog half of them are in non-operational status:
“Dvinitsa-50” — operational
“Kazan-60” — non-operational; to undergo repairs – possibly until this fall – following a machinery room fire in late March
“Kyzyl-60” — non-operational
“Vologda-50” — operational
“Aleksandr Tkachenko” — non-operational; after conducting roundtrip missions in February and March, vessel pulled into Feodosiya in mid-March where it probably remains today
“Yauza” — returning to Murmansk
9 Dec 2015 5 Comments
The tensions between Turkey and Russia are still in an aggravated level after the shooting down of a Russian Su-24M fighter-bomber by a Turkish F-16C.
As reported earlier, most of the tension remains on politic and economic front. Both sides are trying to keep their military reactions to a minimum.
According to Montreux Convention any Black Sea nation must inform Turkey 8 days before the passage of its warship. 14 days has passed since the shooting of the Russian fighter plane. If Russia wanted to reinforce its fleet off the coast of Syria with warships from the Black Sea Fleet these ship would have been passing through the Turkish Straits in last 5 days.
We have seen the southbound passage of 3 military landing ships (Korolev, Saratov, Tsezar Kunikov) and northbound passage of 4 military landing ships and 2 auxiliary cargo ships (Tsezar Kunikov, Yamal, Minsk, Korolev, Yauza, Dvinitsa-50) in last 15 days.
One of the most documented and discussed passage was the one of Tsezar Kunikov. During the southbound passage of this ship on 4th December 2015, a single sailor carrying what appears to be a 9K38 Igla (SA-18 “Grouse”) was photographed. The commanding officer of a warship has the duty to take all necessary precautions to protect his ship and his crew. But the show with the single Sa-18 was neither funny nor logical. If the missile was against Turkish Air Force it was definitely not enough, if the missile was against Daesh Air Force it was too much since they do not have any planes yet. So it was just a gesture to annoy
What we have not seen are the southbound passages of the destroyer or frigates from the Black Sea Fleet. This means either Russia is more interested in keeping their troops supplied in Syria or the conditions of Black Sea Fleet warships are not suitable for such deployment.
29 Nov 2015 16 Comments
On 24 November 2015, one Turkish F-16 fighter, shoot down a Russian Su-24M fighter-bomber violating Turkish airspace.
The events happening after this incident are beyond the scope of this blog. I am going to try to explain this recent Turco-Russian crisis from a maritime point of view.
So what is going to happen on maritime front after the shooting down of the Russian fighter? The short answer is: Nothing.
The first reaction on Russian side, in maritime domain was to withdraw the naval officer working as a liaison between Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and Turkish Navy and suspend participation in the Black Sea Force (BLACKSEAFOR).
“In accordance with the decision by the Russian Defense Ministry on terminating military contacts with Turkey, the participation of our Black Sea Fleet in the BLACKSEAFOR drills has been suspended,” said Komoyedov who was previously commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
“Also, a representative of the Russian Navy in charge of coordination between the Black Sea Fleet and the Turkish Navy has been recalled from Turkey,” Komoyedov said. “He has returned home,” he added.
The withdraw from BLACKSEAFOR is purely for the Russian public consumption. The BLACKSEAFOR was created by Turkey as a call of naval task force very similar to NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups. The Purpose of the BLACKSEAFOR was to develop the interoperability between the Black Sea nations and the create a mutual trust and cooperation between the navies. But the BLACKSEAFOR was stabbed in the back by Russia with the Georgian – Russian war in 2008. That conflict destroyed much of the work done by then. The annexation of Crimea by Russia was the final nail in the coffin. Since that event BLACKSEAFOR was in coma and the yearly activations of the task force were cancelled.therefore Russian decision of leaving BLACKSEAFOR has no value.
Another reaction was the deployment of the Slava class cruiser Mosvka off the coast of Syrian town Latakia.
“Cruiser” Moskva “, armed with air defense system” Fort “, on Wednesday morning took the position area in the region of Latakia. His means of radar and missile system will be able to provide cover videoconferencing Russian air group in Syria, “- a spokesman said.
On the eve of the chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy told reporters that the cruiser “Moskva”, equipped with air defense system “Fort”, takes the area near Latakia to strengthen defense. The exact date when not given.
Besides Mosvka, the following Russian ships are in the region:
And the following Russian ships are on the way to the region:
Mosvka has passed through Turkish Straits on 25 September 2015 and she remained in the Eastern Mediterranean since that day. Moskva has 8 vertical launcher for SA-N-6 ‘Grumble’ surface to air missiles with 8 rounds for each launcher. The SA-N-6 ‘Grumble’ also known as S-300F (Fort) is a navalised version of the S-300 surface to air missile system. The ship based missile is the 5V55RM which has a minimum range of 5 kilometers and a maximum range on 75 kilometers.
The deployment of the cruiser, the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, off the coast of Latakia will increase the protection for air base used by Russia and is more or less for the Russian public consumption. I am quite sure that the captain of Moskva is not happy to act as a picket fence. As a picket fence the cruiser will be the first line of defence and there are not enough Russian warships to escort this capital ship should the crisis escalate.
In the unlikely event of escalation of the crisis between Turkey and Russia the cruiser Mosvka is alone and very vulnerable to the most potent Turkish weapon to be used: submarines.
According to the website of Turkish General Staff two submarines are conducting patrols in Eastern Mediterranean. TCG Dolunay is in the region since 11th November 2015 and TCG Burakreis since 7th November 2015.
Both sides have many warships in the Eastern Mediterranean in close vicinity and the tensions are high at the moment. But never the less I think any military escalation is very unlikely as this could potentially led to a large confrontation and in such event Turkey may evoke its right to close the Turkish Straits according to the article 20 of Montreux Convention.
Article 20. In time of war, Turkey being belligerent, the provisions of Articles 10 to 18 shall not be applicable; the passage of warships shall be left entirely to the discretion of the Turkish Government.
The Montreux Convention dictates a 8 day notification period for the Black Sea Powers. This means if any Black Sea nation wants to move their ships through Turkish Straits, they have to notify Turkey 8 days prior this crossing. Therefore if Russian Navy has decided on 24th November after the shooting down of Su-24M, to send more warships to Syria, 2nd December 2015 is the earliest day these ships can pass through Turkish Straits.
Russia must have an unlimited access to Turkish Straits. The so called Syrian Express deployments of Russian Ropucha and Alligator class landing ships and auxiliaries are vitally important to keep Russian troops inside Syria supplied. If Russia cannot send its ships through Turkish Straits for any reason, the Russian soldiers deployed in Syria may find themselves in a very similar position of General Paulus’ Army. This is an important reason, why the Russian counter aggression to the shooting of its plane is (and will remain) asymmetrical. This is why Russians are trying to hurt Turkey with diplomatic and economical responses rather than military actions.
2 Nov 2015 7 Comments
The Russian flagged RORO ship Alexandr Tkachenko, is one of the civilian ship that is used by Russian military to supply the operations in Syria. She made her latest southbound passage through Istanbul Strait on 31 October 2015.
Her latest cargo has at least 20 ISO containers of which 3 are 40 feet and the rest are 20 feet. 4 trucks and 10 trailers are also visible on the deck.
13 Sep 2015 9 Comments
On 10 September 2015 the Russian Alligator class large landing ship Nikolay Filchenkov made another south bound passage through Turkish Straits. This is her second passage to the Mediterranean in 20 days. This was a faster turn around than usual.
Like her last passage she had cargo on her deck again. Apart from one 6 meter green shipping container and one small utility boat all cargo on deck was hidden under camouflage nets. It is difficult to guess the hidden cargo on deck but it does not look like a land vehicle (to me at least).
Between 20 August 2015 and 10 September 2015, 4 Ropucha class large landing ships and 1 Alligator class landing ship made their south bound passages through Turkish Straits in addition to The Nikolay Filchenkov’s two passages.
8 Sep 2015 17 Comments
The Russian presence in Syria is growing so is the frequency of Russian warships carrying equipment and supplies to the region has increased too.
On 7 September 2015, the Alligator class landing ship Saratov sister of Nikolay Filchenkov made her southbound passage to the Mediterranean.
Like the much discussed passage of Nikolay Filchenkov, the deck of Saratov was loaded with equipment. Since vehicles were under camouflage nets, it is not easy to tell what the ship was exactly carrying. But the profile of the cargo on her bow resembles very much KamAZ-4350 trucks. There are at least 2 on the starboard side and one at the port side.
The remaining vehicles seem to have a lower profile than the trucks. Some of the have two “horns” like the air intakes you can see on BTR-82A armored personal carriers. Thus I believe that Saratov was carrying at least 5 APC’s of this type yesterday.
Since I am not an expert on army vehicles any additions, updates or corrections are welcomed.