USS Truxtun Passed Through The Bosphorus

As reported few days ago by US Navy, the Arleigh Burke class destroyer DDG-103 USS Truxtun passed through the Turkish Straits on 7 March 2013 and entered the Black Sea.

According the official US Navy press release the destroyer is en route to conduct combined training and theater security cooperation engagements in the Black Sea with Romanian and Bulgarian Naval forces. USS Truxtun, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region.

US Navy careful stresses that USS Truxtun‘s operations in the Black Sea were scheduled well in advance of her departure from the United States. But the political crisis between Russia and Ukraine over the fate of Crimea makes this deployment of USS Truxtun to the region a special one.

A strong storm front is coming from the north. In literary and figurative sense of the word USS Truxtun is sailing into a storm.

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Ms. Eser Çelebiler, kindly share her photos of the USS Truxtun as she passed through Bosphorus.
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Mr. Kerim Bozkurt, an invaluable contributor to this blog also shared his photos of the USS Truxtun as she passed through Bosphorus.
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USS Mount Whitney Left Istanbul

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The Blue Ridge class command and control ship LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney, leaving Istanbul, this morning.

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The Blue Ridge class command and control ship LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney, leaving Istanbul, this morning.

After a well deserved 3 day port visit in Istanbul at quarter to 9:00 am, the flagship of the 6. US Fleet, USS Mount Whitney left Istanbul heading towards the Mediterranean. This is the formal end of the US Navy’s Olympic Games Deployment.

USS Taylor is still in Samsun harbour in the meantime. The fate of the stricken frigate USS Taylor is still undecided. It is not clear how long the repair work will continue.

USS Taylor Commanding Officer Relieved of Duty

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor is still in Samsun.

Unfortunately the career of the commanding officer of the stricken frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor did not survived the grounding in Samsun, Turkey.  As expected, Commander Dennis Volpe was relieved from the command of USS Taylor.

Capt. Jim Aiken, commander, Task Force 65, relieved Cmdr. Dennis Volpe, commanding officer of the Mayport-based frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50), Feb. 25, due to loss of confidence in Volpe’s ability to command.

The relief occurred following a preliminary inquiry into a Feb. 12 grounding incident in Samsun, Turkey. The grounding occurred as Taylor was preparing to moor in Samsun, Turkey.

Taylor was able to moor without further incident. There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation.

Volpe has been temporarily reassigned to the staff of Commander, Destroyer Squadron 14.

Cmdr. Chris Cigna has been named as interim commanding officer of USS Taylor until a permanent relief can be assigned.

I have been told by reliable sources that the repair work on the frigate was not finished and despite earlier assumptions the frigate was still docked in Samsun. While it is not clear how long the repair of USS Taylor will take, she was going to be decommissioned next year.

So will USS Taylor become a second USS La Moure County?

USS Mount Whitney In Istanbul

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After drawing endless circles in the water for 20 days between 4 and 24 February 2014, the flagship of the 6th US Navy Fleet, USS Mount Whitney have arrived in Istanbul.

To be honest I was expecting her to pass through the Bosphorus and head straight for Mediterranean but she is conducting a well deserved port visit in Istanbul. I am expecting the US Navy frigate USS Taylor to pass through the Bosphorus. She has turned her AIS transponder off, yesterday. This means that she has left Samsun and is underway towards Istanbul. It seems that the repair work done to her propeller has worked and she is  underway under her own power.

The quality of the photos of USS Mount Whitney left much to be desired but it was raining heavy as she passed where I was standing and there was a very bitter and strong north wind. If the weather improves tomorrow I might have some better photos.

 

 

Update On USS Taylor

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo:www.6n1k.com.tr

Today the governor of Samsun made a written statement about the damage of US Navy frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor.

According to this statement,  initially USS Taylor arrived in Samsun on 12 February, for a very short port visit just to get refueled. Unfortunately the ships propeller stuck the sea ground and got damaged. She has been docked at Samsun port since then. 39 US citizens and all the equipment needed for the repair were flown. Divers from Turkish Coast Guard are escorting the repair work going on underwater. It is estimated that USS Taylor will stay in Samsun till 24 February 2014.

If it takes additional 39 people and an disclosed amount of extra equipment and material to be flown for the repair work, the damage is worse that initially reported.

USS Taylor Damaged In Samsun

USS Taylor in Samsun.

USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo:www.6n1k.com.tr

Foreign ships visiting Turkish harbors usually stay for 3 or 4 days. Thus I was quite curious about the extended stay of us Perry class frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun, Turkey.  I my opinion she should have left three days ago Samsun in order to join USS Mount Whitney off the coast of Sochi to do circles.

A short news article in gave a very plausible explanation why the stay of USS Taylor was extended. Apparently her screw touched the ground when she was mooring in Samsun harbour. According the Vice Governor of Samsun, Haluk Şimşek the screw of the ship touched the bottom of the sea when the ship was maneuvering for docking and it was damaged. There were no reported injuries, and the incident is currently under investigation. So is the damage to the ship. There was a minor spill of about 176 gallons of fuel, according to a report from ABC News

The Perry class ships  have one shaft and one screw. This was a deliberate and a very bold decision by US Navy in order to keep the production simple and cheap. But having one single shaft and screw creates an Achilles Heel for the Perry class ships as if there is a damage to a shaft, screw or to rudder it is very much possible that the ship lost is ability to move. The Perry class is equipped with an auxiliary propulsion system to take the ship back to port if it looses its main propulsion. But this auxiliary system is not much help in the case of USS Taylor.

Samsun harbour is notorious. An Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS Barry had a similar incident back in 2008. She was able to sail without any restrictions afterwards. 

USS Taylor In Samsun

FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo: iha

FF(G)-50 USS Taylor in Samsun. Photo: iha

Perry class Frigate FF(G)-50 USS Taylor docked at Samsun, Turkey after spending the last 6 days making circles in the Black Sea.

Samsun is not a new place for USS Taylor. The ship was there on the New Years Eve in 2009.

It was not announced how long the ship will stay for its well earned rest.

Russia Sees The US Navy’s Bet And Rises One

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

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Russian Kashin class destroyer Smetlivy returning to the Black Sea on 7 February 2014. Photo: Kerim Bozkurt. Used with permission.

The show down between Russia and USA on the Black Sea is continuing and it seems that it will not end before the Olympics.

While the US Navy warships LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney and FFG-50 USS Taylor are doing circles or “doughnuts” off the coast of Sochi, the Russians have called their Kashnin class destroyer Smetlivy back from the Mediterranean.

The large anti-submarine ship Smetlivy was laid in 1966 and commissioned in 1969. She is the sole remaining Kashin class destroyer and is attached to Russian Black Sea Fleet. She was refitted from 1990 till 1996. Though she is one of the oldest vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, she is still very active and made frequent deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean.

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USS Mount Whitney and USS Taylor off the coast of Sochi.

As Smetlivy belongs to the Russian Black Sea Fleet her return to the Black Sea may be just the end of her regular deployment or and counter move to the two circling US navy warships off the coast of Sochi. It depends largely to your perspective and your perception of the news.

As I have said before and again, I believe the deployment of the two US Navy warships to the Black Sea is more political rather than practical as both ships lack the necessary means to conduct a civilian evacuation operation properly. They do not have (as far as I know) any marine detachments to provide security on shore around the civilians waiting for their evacuation at the deployment site nor enough boats or helicopters to ferry the civilians to the ships.

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USNS Spearhead, doing her circles in the North Aegean. Will she pass through the Turkish Straits?

Russia made it very clear that the US Navy presence is legal but not welcomed much. Well if Russians are unhappy about the US Navy ships off the coast of Sochi, I believe Russians are to blamed for this. If they have called in the multinational maritime security task force BlackSeaFor, to support them to secure the Olympics it would may prevented non Black Sea nations to mingle.

The BlackSeaFor consists of warships from Black Sea nations and the task force is activated twice a year (in April and in August). The main purpose of the BlackSeaFor was to cooperatively promote security and stability in the Black Sea maritime area and beyond. Fighting against terrorism was added when the scope of the BlackSeaFor was extended. With three NATO navies  (Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania) among the participants, the BlackSeaFor is has the capability and the means to help the Russians to secure the maritime front of the Olympics and assure other nations to help their citizens if needed.

In the mean time another US (war)ship is making her doughnuts in the North Aegean: JHSV-1 USNS Spearhead. She  is the first ship in the Spearhead class Joint High Speed Vessel (a very fancy name for ferryboat), to be operated by the Military Sealift Command and christened on 17 September 2011. Vessels similar to USNS Spearhead, from the same shipbuilder, are being used by Istanbul Fast Ferries to carry passengers and vehicles around Marmara Sea. If deployed to the Black Sea the USNS Spearhead would provide means to US Navy to mass evacuation of civilians.

Finaly: US Navy Warships On Black Sea

After week of discussions and very cold war like tug of words between Russia and USA, two US Navy warships have passed through the Turkish Straits.

The first ship, LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney, the flag-ship of the US 6. Fleet made her passage on 4 February 2014.

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USS Mount Whitney passing through the Bosphorus on 4 February 2014, as seen from a web cam. Photo: seabreeze.org.ua

The second ship turned out to be not a Arleigh Burke Class destroyer but a Perry class frigate. FFG-50 USS Taylor made her passage through the Turkish Straits on 5 February 2014.

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The choise of the warships by US Navy is very odd. These ships are send under the context of providing security for the Olympics, but both ships have no offensive weapons other than their helicopters are carrying. I assume that these helicopters can carry a Penguin Mk2 missile

The USS Mount Whitney is a command and control ship. She has excellent communication suits and enough rooms and people to organize and command a fleet. But the ship has only short-range self-defence weapons.

The frigate USS Taylor was a more potent warship compared to USS Mount Whitney, before the frigate was gilded before the only guided weapon launcher of the frigate was deactivated. USS Taylor carries like USS Mount Whitney short ranged self defence weapons. One may regard the 76mm gun the frigate has an offensive weapons but is it wise to bring a gun to fight in the missile age?

Like I said before the only long range weapon both ships have are the helicopters they are carrying and I assume that these helicopters can be armed with guided missiles and other weapons (though Mk46 / Mk54 torpedoes may not be suitable for securing the Olympics)

I personally find the notion of two inadequately armed US Navy warships protecting the Olympics as absurd as the notion of Russian nuclear cruiser Petr Veliky providing security for the Olympics from the Mediterranean.

The whole show of force between USA and Russia over the security of the Olympics is not about the security of the Olympics.

 

 

 

 

USS Mount Whitney Back In The Mediterranean

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USS Mount Whitney in the middle of the Marmara Sea. I was 30 minutes too late.

After finishing her 15 day Odyssey in the Black Sea, the flag-ship of the US 6th Fleet, LCC-20 USS Mount Whitney passed through the Turkish Straits on 20 November 2013 and returned to the Mediterranean.

During her 15 days in the Black Sea she visited Burgas in Bulgaria, Batumi in Georgia  and Constanta in Romania and conducted small scale exercise with the local naval forces. 

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