The “Missing Turkish Warships” Farce

Turkey is in a very turbulent situation since the failed coup attempt last Saturday.

There is a lot of information, misinformation and disinformation about the things happened during the last weekend. One of the is the story about 14 missing warship of Turkish Navy.

As far as I know the story was originated in British newspapers and spread like a wild-fire.

Several Turkish navy ships are still unaccounted for, their commanders suspected to be among the plotters who sought to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Admiral Veysel Kosele, the commander of the Turkish navy, has not been heard from since the failed coup on Friday, a source told The Times.

It is currently unknown whether he was part of the coup or was tricked on to the boat after coup plotters told him there was a terrorist attack and then taken hostage, local media reports suggested.

The 14 missing ships were reportedly on active duty in either the Aegean or the Black Sea and have not tried to make contact with naval headquarters or report back to the port.

It is suspected they may be heading to Greek ports. On Saturday, eight Turkish military officers took a helicopter to Greece to seek asylum.

Despite several days the sources that originated this story failed to show evidence such as the names of the missing ships or more details about them to further support their story.

There are also some gross factual errors in the story. Admiral Kösele is the Commander of Turkish Fleet. Admiral Bülent Bostanoğlu is the Commander of Turkish Naval Forces. And the Command of Turkish Fleet is one of the subcommands of the Naval Forces. And the whereabouts of Admiral Kösele is well know. He was interned on board of TCG Yavuz for a couple of hours and he was released later.

The Black Sea and the Aegean are too small for 14 ships to hide. Furthermore there Greek and Russian Armed Forces are tracking the movement of Turkish warships. They would announce to the world, with a lot of Schadenfreude, if there where any Turkish ships in their ports.

I know that there are at least 4 ships (one mine hunter, one command ship, one frigate and one submarine) in Black Sea taking part in Romanian naval exercise. They have not returned yet. Thus an uniformed land based source may think that they are still unaccounted for.
I sincerely hope that this 14 missing Turkish Warships farce will end very soon and we can focus on things that are real and matter.

Turkish Company Will Upgrade Pakistan’s Submarines

Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence Production selected Turkish company Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik (STM) to upgrade Pakistani Khalid class submarines.

The contract was signed on 22 June and is about the upgrade of one submarine with an option for two. Pakistan operates 3 Khalid submarines.

The work on the first submarine will be finished in 45 months. Pakistani media said the modernisation programme would focus on mission systems and sensors within the submarine, including a new combat management system. According to media reports STM has beaten the French company DCNS that designed and constructed the Khalid class submarines.

This contract is a major milestone for STM. STM was established in 1991 to provide system engineering, technical support, project management, technology transfer and logistics support services for Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM). The contract is important since Turkish does not operate any French designed submarines. All Turkish Navy submarines are Type 209 variants. Thus STM will have to develop its solution on a new and previously unknown platform. This might be a challenge.

STM is also the main contractor of the logistic support ship currently being constructed in Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Ltd in Pakistan.

This is however is not the first time Turkey is helping Pakistan Navy to maintain its submarines. Tench class submarine PNS Ghazi was sent to Turkey for a $1.5 million refit in 1967-68.

 

TCG Burgazada Launched

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TCG Burgazada on the slipway ready to be launched. The first section of TCG Kınalıada is already assembled and is ready to be put on the slipway. This photo was taken earlier this week.

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Same scene from a slightly different angle.

Today the third ship of Ada class, TCG Burgazada was launched in Istanbul Naval Shipyard and the keel laying ceremony for the fourth ship TCG Kınalıada was conducted.

The construction of TCG Burgazada started on 27 September 2013. For the previous two ships, Istanbul Naval Shipyard needed 3 years from the start of the construction till launching. However the shipyard was able to shorten the construction time of TCG Burgazada by 100 days.

These two ships, together with the previous pair will constitute Ada class.

During the launching ceremony the Commander of Turkish Naval Forces, Admiral Bülent Bostanoğlu said that the planned construction time for TCG Kınalıada will be 8 months shorter.  He also noted that the second batch of four ships will be constructed in İ class configuration. The construction of the fifth ship, named  TCG İstanbul, will start in Januray 2017. These ships are scheduled to be commissioned between 2021 and 2024.

 

Here is a short video of the launch:

Efes 16 Military Exercise

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US Army troops disembark from a Turkish landing craft Ç-147. The soldiers on the left are from Saudi Arabia and the soldiers at the end of the bay are probably Polish.

Since 4th May, the Joint Combined Exercise Efes 16 is conducted in Turkey. The national exercise Efes, is being held as a multinational event for the first time this year, including about 7,000 service members from the U.S. Army and Navy, Azerbaijan, England, Germany, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

The purpose of the exercise is to improve joint and combined operations of the command, control and planning to include logistics and interoperability skills.

As the nations participate in joint training exercises, learn each other’s tactics, and strengthen their ability to operate together, the complexity of their operations increase. This week they set a milestone by participating in the first ever multinational Amphibious and Air Assault operations to combine all the participating nations during EFES.

“I hope they are learning as much as we are from them about how to communicate and maneuver in a diverse task organization with a dynamic mission set,” said U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Westcott, the Commander of A Company, 54th Engineer Battalion, 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).

During both the Amphibious and Air Assault operations, the engineers’ mission was to clear mine and wire obstacles for armor and dismounted infantry elements.

“These operations show the larger NATO force what U.S. engineering capabilities bring to the fight,” said Westcott.

During the amphibious operation the U.S. Soldiers have two elements. The first used bangalore explosives to clear wire obstacles on the beach for the second element that arrived on beach aboard Turkish Armored Personnel Carriers that were delivered ashore by Turkish Navy ships.

“We’re working with nations we have never worked with before, seeing new faces and how they operate,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alex Cansler, a Platoon Leader with the engineer company.

For the Air Assault the engineers had a similar mission, but different ride to it.

They boarded Turkish Cougar helicopters along with their partners from the German and Polish infantry units. They dismounted the helicopters and breached obstacles for the German infantry to continue toward their objective. After both elements completed their breaching missions they fell back to their second task, fighting as infantrymen to help the battalion close with and destroy the enemy.

“Most the time you just breach the obstacle,” said Pfc. Tyler Adams, a combat engineer with the 54th, who participated rode on one of the Turkish Navy ships and armored personnel carrier during the Amphibious Assault. “Doing stuff like that makes it more fun. It makes other missions easier because you think, ‘If I did something that different then other new things will be easier,'” said Adams

On 30th and 31st of May will be the live firing phase of the exercise. This part is scheduled to be conducted in Doğanbey in İzmir.

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

Where An Epoch Lies

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“Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground, You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies.”

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This is the replica of the Ottoman mine layer Nusrat. Her mines made a history. This small ship with her few mines had an impart on the history beyond her size.

One hundred and one years ago the idyllic town of Çanakkale was the center of a very fierce and bloody fighting, which shaped the directly the future of Turkey, which became a modern, secular state after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

A mighty armada of Royal Navy and French warships tried to force its was through the Dardanelles to effect the capture of Istanbul but then capital of Ottoman Empire. This, it was hoped, would take Turkey out of the war and enable the Allies to shore up the Russian war effort on the Eastern Front, so relieving pressure on the Western Front.

After the initiation of hostilities in mid-February 1915, the Allied armada effectively silenced the Ottoman outer defences on the both sides of the Çanakkale Strait. Next they would try to silence the inner forts and clear as many mines as possible.

The battleships were arranged in three lines, two British and one French, with supporting vessels on the flanks and two ships in reserve.

Everything seem to be on the side of the Allied naval forces until at around 14.00 on March 18, when a small cloud of yellowish smoke, which turned black afterwards, came out of the starboard quarter of the French warship Bouvet. The old battleship had struck one of the mines laid ten days earlier by small Ottoman minelayer Nusret. Bouvet sank in a matter of minutes. After a very short time, HMS Inflexible and shortly later HMS Irresistible also struck mines planted by Nusret.

Of the 18 capital ships that sailed in the Dardanelles that morning HMS Ocean, HMS Irresistible and FNS Bouvet never returned. HMS Inflexible and FNS Gaulois had to be beached at the nearby island of Tenedos, in order for their men to be rescued. FNS Suffren was heavily damaged by Turkish guns and later had to be docked at Malta for intensive repairs.

The failure of the naval forces forced the Allies to land troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula to capture it and so remove the lethal gun barriers. It led bloody trench warfare and many thousands of dead on both sides.

As it dissipated over the waters the words of a famous Turkish poem that honours then sacrifice of the Gallipoli Campaign and its role in establishing nationhood rang through the minds of many who were there. One verse in particular seems to perfectly express Remembrance and the epic nature of the events experience by all nations who fought at Gallipoli, but especially the Turkish people:

‘Stop wayfarer! Unbeknownst to you this ground
You come and tread on, is where an epoch lies;
Bend down and lend your ear, for this silent mound
Is the place where the heart of a nation sighs.’

Ukrainian Warships Paid a Short Visit To Istanbul

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Hetman Sahaidachny (left), TCG Salihreis (middle) Balta (right) in Istanbul.

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TCG Salihreis (left) and Hetman Sahaidachny (right) in Istanbul. Photo: Deniz Yaman.

Ukrainian warships Hetman Sahaidachny and Balta made a short port visit to Istanbul today.

Both ships passed through Istanbul Strait on 7th March 2016 and sailed to main Turkish Navy base in Gölcük, Kocaeli. There the ships have conducted joint exercises with Turkish warships.

The frigate Hetman Sahaidachny and the degaussing ship Balta arrived on the morning of 10th March 2016 accompanied by Turkish frigate TCG Salihreis to Istanbul. Balta left for Ukraine in a few hours later whereas the frigate stayed longer. The Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who is in Turkey for an official visit, visited the frigate.

President Petro Poroshenko visited flagship of the Ukrainian Naval Forces Hetman Sahaidachny frigate that takes part in the common training with the Naval Forces of Turkey in the Sea of Marmara.
Commander of the sea campaign Dmytro Hlukhov and commander of the frigate Denys Ivanin demonstrated the equipment and mobile military hospital provided by the Turkish side.
Ukraine will receive 5 such hospitals. They will be relocated to the sectors of responsibility in the ATO area after the return of Hetman Sahaidachny frigate to Ukraine.
The President emphasized that such mobile hospitals were essentially important in the ATO area. He called them the evidence of partnership relations between the two states. “Earlier, we received them from the United States, Canada and Australia. It emphasizes strategic character of our relations,” the Head of State noted.

Later in the afternoon, Hetman Sahaidachny departed with two containers on her flight deck to Ukraine.

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.

 

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.

 

Turkish Coast Guard Order Of Battle

A few weeks earlier I have compiled the order of battle of Turkish Navy here. This is the order of battle for Turkish Coast Guard:

Active Building Planned
Offshore patrol vessels 4
Large patrol craft 58
Small patrol craft 47
Control craft 85
Search and rescue craft 44
Helicopters 14
Planes 3

A detailed version of the above list:

Active Building Planned
Dost class off shore patrol vessels 4
Type 80 class 18
Sar 35 class 4
Sar 33 class 10
Türk class 4
Kaan 33 class 13
Kaan 29 class 9
Kaan 19 class 17
Kaan 15 class 18
Piket  class 2
Hector 42 class 10
Saget class 23
Various RHIP type craft 62
Search and rescue craft 44
AB-412 helicopters 14
CN-235 MPA planes 3

For more information about the future shipbuilding project for Turkish Navy and Turkish Coast Guard, here is an interesting read.

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