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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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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.

First Damen SAR 1906 Boat Is Getting Ready For The Service

In November 2016, Dutch shipyard Damen has signed a contract with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ankara, Turkey for the supply of six, search and rescue (SAR) vessels for delivery in 2017.

The boats are designed for SAR operations in all-weather and can self right within seconds after a capsize or even a 360° roll. The 19 meter long boat, has a maximum speed of 31 knots and can carry up to 120 survivors.

The six boats will be built by Damen’s Turkish Shipyard in Antalya. The first two boats are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2017 and the deliveries will be finished by the end of 2017.

These will be the first Damen built boats for Turkish Coast Guard. And these boats are going to be the first dedicated and purpose designed search and rescue vessels of Turkish Coast Guard. Damen was not a supplier for Turkish Coast Guard. The fact that the contract was financed by EU funds must have helped the Dutch company. Turkish Coast Guard usually prefers local shipyards and local designs.

Below is a video of the self righting test of the first boat courtesy of Mr. Murat Güçlü.

Update On TCSG-25’s Collision With M/V Tolunay

On 17 August 2016, Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-25 collided with the Cook Island flag and Turkish owned bulk carrier M/V Tolunay, near the southern entrance of Bosphorus.

TCSG-25 was tasked to escort the Russian Natya class mine hunter Valentin Pikul which was returning from her Syrian deployment. The coast guard boat capsized after the collision.  Lieutenant Ali Rıza Yücel, Petty Officers Yavuz Gökhan Şahin, Bülent Demirkaya and rating Sinan Göktaş died while the remaining 3 crew members were rescued.

The captain of M/V Tolunay, Abdullah Hamadı and 2 members of the crew are currently on trial. They are charged with causing death and injury through negligence. The prosecution asks for imprisonment from 4.5 years to 22.5 years.

There is a video taken by a sailor on board of the Russian mine sweeper showing the accident. TCSG-25 had the agility and the speed to sprint and move away from the merchant ship.

Turkish Coast Guard To Receive 6 Damen Vessels

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A 3D-rendering of SAR Vessel 1906 by Damen Shipyards.

The Dutch shipyard, Damen has signed a contract with the International Organisation for Migration, for the supply of six, Search and Rescue (SAR) vessels for delivery in 2017. The boats are being financed by the European Union and will be operated by the Turkish Coast Guard, to support the refugees and migrants rescue operations, according to Defence Turkey Magazine.

The boats are designed for SAR operations in all-weather and can self right within seconds after a capsize or even a 360° roll. The 19 meter long boat, has a maximum speed of 31 knots and can carry up to 120 survivors.

The six boats will be built by Damen’s Turkish Shipyard in Antalya. The first two boats are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2017 and the deliveries will be finished by the end of 2017.

These will be the first Damen built boats for Turkish Coast Guard. And these boats are going to be the first dedicated and purpose designed search and rescue vessels of Turkish Coast Guard. Damen was not a supplier for Turkish Coast Guard. The fact that the contract was financed by EU funds must have helped the Dutch company. Turkish Coast Guard usually prefers local shipyards and local designs.

Turkish Navy Helped Panamanian Flagged Merchant Ship

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TCG Yıldırım with M/V Fom. Photo: Turkish Naval Forces

According to Turkish Navy press release, MEKO 200 class frigate TCG Yıldırım, evacuated crew from a stricken merchant ship.

The Panamanian flagged merchant ship M/V Fom has suffered a severe engine problem, off the coast of Black Sea town Karadeniz Ereğlisi. The ship lost power and asked for assistance. TCG Yıldırım was dispatched to the drifting M/V Fom. The on board helicopter from the frigate, evacuated 8 strong crew from M/V Fom. The crew after receiving an initial medical attention on TCG Yıldırım, was later transferred to the shore by Turkish Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Boat Collided With A Merchant Ship And Capsized

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TCSG-25 in her better days

Yesterday morning, during the morning rush hour, the Turkish Coast Guard vessel TCSG-25 collided with the Cook Island flag and Turkish owned bulk carrier M/V Tolunay on Bosphorus. The accident happened near the southern entrance of Bosphorus. The coast guard boat capsized after the collision. Both civilian and military rescue ships and other vessels were rushed to the scene. Unfortunately 3 members of crew Rıza Yücel, Yavuz Gökhan Şahin and Sinan Göktaş died while the remaining 3 were rescued.

The boat was tasked to escort the Russian Natya class mine hunter Valentin Pikul which was returning from her Syrian deployment.

If you wonder -like me- how a slow and large bulk carrier could collide with a very fast and agile boat the video below gives us some clue. For a reason, not clear, to me the coast guard boats stays motionless in front of the bulker. At this point it was not possible for the merchant ship to see the boat or to stop.

After the collision the merchant ship sailed till the northern entrance of Bosphorus to Büyükdere Bay. That Bay is the first place along the Bosphorus where a safe anchorage without disturbing the transit traffic is possible. Conveniently the headquarters of Istanbul Coast Guard Command is also located there.

An IED Kills A Turkish Coast Guard Sailor

The yellow circle shows the approximate location of the incident. Syrian border in 10 nautical miles to south.

The yellow circle shows the approximate location of the incident. Syrian border in 10 nautical miles to south.

A Turkish Coast Guard sailor died and a fisherman wounded when a life raft with two bodies on it exploded. The incident happened off the coast of Samandağ in Hatay province, in the morning of 22nd May 2016.

According to news reports, Ali Doğru, a local fisher, sighted a life raft with 2 dead persons, drifting 3 kilometers off the coast of Samandağ and informed the coast guard. One of the boats stationed in Çevlik, Samandağ was dispatched to investigate the incident. Çevlik is the southernmost Coast Guard base a few nautical miles away from Syrian border.

The explosion happened as the coast guard vessel tried to tow life raft. The sailor Alper Al, died and the fisher Ali Doğru was injured. The divers later brought some pieces of the boat and some body parts from the sea floor.

The details of the incident is not enough to answer all the questions. It is not clear if it was a targeted attack against Turkish Coast Guard or not.

Previously boats rigged with explosives were used in suicide attacks against ships. These attacks such the one against USS Cole or M/T Limburg were intended attacks with a live driver bringing the boat to its determined target. Since the boat was drifting it is difficult to determine the intended target of this attack. Drifting mines were used  to disrupt sea traffic in certain areas during war times, but I have not heard about drifting boats rigged with explosives. If one of the fighting parties in Syria, specially rigged the boat with an IED intending hurting the rescuers, this might be a first.

Sea Lion 2016 Search And Rescue Exercise

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Large OPV’s like SG-701 TCSG Güven here are vital for search and rescue missions in maritime domain.

Turkish Coast Guard will conduct Sea Lion-2016 Search and Rescue Exercise, between 3rd and 6th May 2016, in international waters of the Aegean Sea covered by Turkish Search and Rescue Area. Search and Rescue units from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and elements of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry will participate in the exercise.

The aim of the exercise is to improve the co-ordination and collaboration between the military and civilian search and rescue units and co-ordination centers.

18th March 2016 Naval Parade

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TCG Nusret, the replica of the Ottoman mine layer Nusret. She took part in the naval parade too. She is a commissioned ship in Turkish Navy.

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TCG Amasra, having the Commodore on board, formed the lead section of the parade with TCG Nusret and TCG Akçakoca.

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TCG Akçakoca

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TCG Anafartalar, was one of the two submarines in the parade.

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TCG Gür

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TCG Salihreis, led the frigates and corvettes section.

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TCG Göksu

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TCG Büyükada.

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TCG Bartın

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TCG Mızrak, led the patrol boat section of the parade.

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TCG Atak

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TCG Tuzla

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TCG Karabiga

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TCSG-94. She and her sister TCSG-91 were part of the patrol boat section.

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TCSG-91

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TCG Akçay. She was open to public visit.

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TCG Oruçreis. Like the mine hunter TCG Akçay she was too open for public visit. It must be a nice diversification from SNMG-2 duties in Northern Aegean.

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This is one of the several coast guard boats, that provided close security during the ceremonies.

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TCSG-23 was another coast guard boat that provided close security during the naval parade.

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TCB-70 was the lead helicopter of the 3 units strong naval aviation display.

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TCB-65

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TCB-59

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Turkish Coast Guard’s aviation branch send a 3 helicopter strong detachment for the commemorations. This is TCGS-504

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TCSG-505

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TCSG-502

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Turkish Stars, the air display team of Turkish Airforce showed their skills. The display was not visible from where I was standing. But I have managed to take a photo one of the planes as they were leaving.

Like in previous years, on 18th March 2016, Turkish Navy organised a Naval Parade in Çanakkale Strait to commemorate Turkish Victory over the Allied Armada 101 years ago.

6 Navy and Coast Guard helicopters, 3 maritime patrol planes and 6 Army helicopters took part in a fly over. And the Turkish Stars, the aerobatics demonstration team of the Turkish Air Force made a display. The focal point of the commemorations was the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial, was off the limit for me. But I was never the less able to take photos of the warships taking part in the parade, Coast Guard Boats, providing security and ships that were open for public.

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