The “Missing Turkish Warships” Farce – An Epilog

F-240 TCG Yavuz,

F-240 TCG Yavuz

15 days ago, Turkey lived its longest night. There were many stories, rumors and allegations in the air before the dust settled  down and we could gain a better inside to the things that happened.

One of the rumors was that 14 warships of Turkish Navy were missing after the failed coup attempt and they may be seeking refuge in other countries.  This story was initiated in British Press (here, here and here) and spread like a wild-fire. I have expressed my thoughts before. Now I am trying to find a closure to that story.

In the last 15 days there has been no follow-up stories. No additional information such as the names and types of the ships has surfaced either.

While it is most difficult to prove something has not happened. When you have eliminate all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth as Sherlock Holmes says. Thus I am trying to eliminate all which is impossible:

  • It is impossible to hide 14 warships in the confined waters of the Aegean, the Black Sea and Mediterranean. These ships would have been observed either from the land based observations stations from hundreds of civilian and many military warships cruising in these seas.
  • It is impossible for foreign press to be silence about a Turkish warship entering their port and asking for refuge.
  • It is impossible for these 14 ships to stay on open seas without replenishing their fuel, water and other provisions. Depending their type they must be running low on fuel, water and food.
  • It is impossible for a government or a naval force to remain silent about such a big and important story. If 14 ships were really missing, someone either from Turkey or abroad would have talked about it by now.

Turkish General Staff published the numbers of discharged soldiers and number of the vehicles used during the coup attempt. According to this official declaration only 3 ships were used.

The involvement of the commander and the executive commander of TCG Yavuz was known since 15th July, as they have detained the Commander of The Fleet, Admiral Kösele on board during that night.

It was published that Type 80 class Coast Guard boat, TCSG-96 has left its port during the night of 15th July, without an order. The boat later returned to its port without any incidents.

It is not clear, from Turkish General Staff’s publication, whether they consider TCSG-96 among the above mentioned 3 ships. If not, then there were 3 Turkish Navy warships and one Coast Guard went rogue on that night

If so -which would be wrong, since a coast guard boat is not a warship- then there is one unidentified ship left that took part in the coup attempt.

More Milgem’s For Turkish Navy

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Coming soon to a slipway near you.

Turkish defence acquisition agency Undersecreteriat For Defence industries (UDI) has issued a request for proposal for 4 more Milgem class corvettes.

To be honest, I did not expect that UDI would prepare a tender for more Milgem class warships, adding a new twist to the long and winding project. The reasoning behind this move can be

  • to free Istanbul Naval Shipyard for further construction projects such as İ class
  • to give support and work to the Turkish private shipyards

The RfP documents has not much valuable information. The competition is open to Turkish shipyards. And the contenders must have a floating dock or a slipway at least 115 meter or longer. The dealine for delivering the proposals is 30th November 2016.

This second batch of four ships will probably have the same design and armament of the existing ships.

TCG Sancaktar Launched

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TCG Sancaktar being launched. Photo: Denizhaber

Amid the turmoil created by the failed coup attempt, the second New Type LST, TCG Sancaktar was launched on 16th July 2016. I wish her calm seas and friendly winds.

The first ship of the new landing ship class TCG Bayraktar was launched on 3rd October 2015.

The contract for the construction of a new LST’s was signed between Ministry of Defence and ADIK-Furtrans shipyard on 11 May 2011. The value of the contract is 370 million Euros. It took almost two years for the shipyard to find the 370 million Euro credit to cover the project as required by the contract.

The new landing ships will have a crew of 129 and will carry 350 soldiers. The ships will have a citadel to protect the crew from effects of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. The closed parking area is 1100 square meters and the open deck parking area is 690 square meters sufficient for approximately 20 main battle tanks and between 24 – 60 vehicles.

The armament consists of 2 single barreled 40mm Oto Melara guns, 2 Mk15 Phalanx CIWS, 2 machine guns on a stabilized remote-controlled chassis.

The ships will have a Smart Mk2 3D air/surface search radar (which not common for an amphibious ship) 2 AselFLIR 300D EO director, torpedo counter measures systems, laser warning receiver and Link 16/22 system. All these sensors and weapons will be controlled by a 5 consoles of GENESIS CMS.

Here is a video of the launching:

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

Nusret

“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.

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