Sea Breeze 2015 Naval Exercise Concludes In Ukraine

TCG Bozcaada arriving ODeesa for Sea Breeze 2015 exercise.

TCG Bozcaada arriving Odessa for Sea Breeze 2015 exercise. Photo: Igor More.

The Ukrainian led exercise Sea Breeze 2015 finished today. The exercise had stared on 31 August 2015 and had a land and a sea phase.

Warships from Romania, Turkey, USA and Ukraine has participated to the sea phase of the exercise. The exercise was attended by 2,5 thousand military personnel not only from the United States and Ukraine, but also from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Italy, the UK, Romania, Sweden, Turkey and Moldova. According to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the purpose of the exercise is to develop of a multinational security operations in crisis region.

This is the list of the participating ships. The number of the ships was vague. Some publications cited 19 ships other 14 ships. Some even wrote that there would be submarines. But since Turkish Navy did not deployed a submarine to this exercise the anti submarine warfare training had to be done by a simulator.

Number Name Type Nationality
111 Mărăşeşti Frigate Romania
264 ROS Cam. Eustaţiu Sebastian Corvette Romania
F-500 TCG Bozcaada Corvette Turkey
U-130 Hetman Sahaidachny Frigate Ukraine
U-153 Priluki Missile boat Ukraine
U-360 Genichesk Mine sweeper Ukraine
U-401 Kirovgrad Landing ship Ukraine
BG-109 BG-109 Patrol boat Ukraine
U-120 Skadovsk Patrol boat Ukraine
U-705 Kremenets Tug Ukraine
BG-63 Pavel Derzhavin Patrol boat Ukraine
BG-50 Grigory Kuropiatnikov Patrol boat Ukraine
75 Donald Cook Destroyer USA
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The Politics Of Not Transferring Ships To Turkey (Which Are Not Needed Anyway)

TCG Gediz with her new Smart Mk2 3D radar

TCG Gediz with her new Smart Mk2 3D radar and Mk-41 VLS. 

The US Congress passed the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2013. With this act the President of USA is authorized to sell or to grant decommissioned US Navy warships to other countries.

Usually the US Congress passes one Naval Transfer Act (NTA) once or twice in every legislation. And in each NTA certain warships and their prospective recipients are mentioned. Please mind that NTA is simply an authorization of US President by the Congress to offer these warships. The NTA does not means that the received recipients will accept this offer at the end.

In previous Naval Transfers Act of years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012 Turkey has been offered  many ships from small mine hunters to large destroyers, by USA. And Turkey has not accepted any of these offers.

In previous Naval Transfers Act of years 2003, 2008 Turkey was not offered any warships.

I have a difficult time to understand the fuss around the omission of Turkey from Naval Transfer Act 2013. I guess some cheap politicians are trying to make some cheap gains by making something out of nothing.

But the inclusion of Turkey proved controversial, as members of Congress pointed out Turkey’s increasingly hostile stance toward Israel and its threats against natural gas exploration by American companies near Cyprus. “I believe we should hold off on sending powerful warships to Turkey and encourage the government in Ankara to take a less belligerent approach to their neighbors,” said Representative Eliot Engel during that debate.

But if the US lawmakers tried to give some kind of a signal to the Turkish government by not adding Turkey to the list of the nations that may get a frigate is beyond my understanding. But if they did; the message was not delivered as the medium is not the correct one. And what was the messages in year 2003 and 2008 where no warships have been offered to Turkey?

Anyway, I do not think that any ship that US is prepared to transfer to Turkey is not powerful compared to what Turkish Navy operates.

Below is a comparison chart between the Gabya/Perry class frigates operated by both navies:

Turkish Navy (Gabya) US Navy (Perry)
Mk-13 launcher capable of firing SM-1 Standard SAM and Harpoon ASM missiles +
Mk-41 VLS capable of firing ESSM SAM missiles (with a potential of SM-2 Standard SAM) +
Integrated, modern combat management system +
3D air search radar +
Additional 25mm gun +

Turkish frigates have more punch, better sensors and a up-to-date combat management system compared to their counterparts in US Navy service.

The only reason I can think, why Turkish Navy would want to have an old Perry class frigate from US Navy service is, to cannibalize it to provide spare parts to ours. But thank fully Perry class frigates are used besides USA, by Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, Poland, Spain, Turkey. Thus finding spare parts is not all to difficult.

As I have already told, the lack of the warships especially Perry class frigates from NTA 2013, will not have any effect on the Turkish Navy at all from a technical point of view. On the contrary, we do not have to spend money and man power which are also needed for our ongoing local warship production projects. USA might be transferring warships to its allies but the ships have to be overhauled in US shipyards as NTA dictates, which means the allies have to transfer money to USA.

Dolphins On Bosphorus

A school of Dolphins enjoying their freedom of navigation in Bosphorus. Their nationalities was not identified.

A school of Dolphins enjoying their freedom of navigation in Bosphorus. Their nationalities were not identified.

On 21 April the Russian RIA Novosti website published an article speculating that US military-trained dolphins and sea lions will participate in upcoming NATO military exercises in the Black Sea. And the source of this speculation was a report on Russian Izvestiya newspaper.

The paper, citing a spokesman for the US Navy’s marine mammals program, said some 20 dolphins and 10 sea lions will participate in exercises.
The exercises will test new equipment designed to “disorient enemy sonars, while sea lions and dolphins are looking for mines and military divers,” the newspaper wrote.
The exercises will be held under the marine mammals’ training program, which trains animals to protect ships and harbors and detect mines.
“In addition, we plan to test new armor for dolphins developed by a specialized research center based in the University of Hawaii,” the newspaper said, citing spokesman Tom LaPuzza.
The animals are to be airlifted to Ukraine. This will be the first NATO drill to involve military dolphins. The US military now has more than 100 bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions and beluga whales, according to LaPuzza.
The exercises are planned to last no longer than two weeks. Under an international agreement, the maximum permitted duration of stay for countries that do not have access to the Black Sea is 21 days.
It was previously announced that Russia will also use dolphins in its Black Sea navy missions. Military dolphins and sea lions that were undergoing training for the Ukrainian Navy before the Crimean Peninsula was reunited with Russia last month have been transferred to the Russian Navy.

This almost absurd story was quickly denied by US Navy.

The U.S. Navy says there’s no truth to a widely circulating report that its mine-hunting dolphins are heading for the Black Sea, where the Russian Navy has recently taken control of Ukraine’s military-trained dolphins.

The report popped up on the Russian newspaper Izvestia’s website on Monday, in connection with claims that NATO countries might participate in military exercises with Ukraine or other nations in the Black Sea region this summer.
The report includes extensive quotes from a a source that Izvestia identified as Navy spokesman Tom LaPuzza — and it spawned follow-up items at online outlets ranging from the Daily Mail to The Wire to International Business Times UK.
Such items caught the attention of Ed Budzyna, who really is a spokesman for the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego. For decades, the Navy has been training dolphins and seals to identify explosives, mines and other foreign objects underwater — as have the Russians and Ukrainians.

Budzyna noted that LaPuzza had been a spokesman for the Marine Mammal Program years back, but no longer. Efforts to contact LaPuzza, and efforts to figure out how Izvestia got its information, have so far been unsuccessful

I will look with a different eye to the dolphins I see in (on?) Bosphorus from now on.

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.

Karadeniz

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.

Ege

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.

Mount-Whitney

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.

KB-14-02-05-Bogaz-0017-TN

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.

 

 

 

 

Warships In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 2)

This is the list of the naval vessels in the region i.e. east of Crete as of 17 September 2013:

Russian Navy:

  • 548 Admiral Panteleyev, destroyer
  • 810 Smetlivy, destroyer
  • 712 Neustrashimy, frigate
  • 127 Minsk, large landing ship
  • 142 Novocharkassk, large landing ship
  • 055 Admiral Nevelskoi, large landing ship Back in the Black Sea
  • 077 Peresvet, large landing ship Back in the Black Sea
  • 110 Aleksandr Shabalin, large landing ship Back in the Marmara Sea
  • 151 Azov, large landing ship, in the Baltics
  • SSV-201 Priazove, intelligence gathering ship
  • PM-138, repair ship
  • MB-304, tug
  • Pechenga, tanker
  • 152 Nikolay Filchenkov, large landing ship

US Navy:

  • DDG-52 USS Barry, destroyer
  • DDG-107 USS Gravely, destroyer
  • DDG-61 USS Ramage, destroyer
  • DDG-55 USS Stout, destroyer
  • LPD-17 USS San Antonio, amphibious transport dock
  • T-AO-195 USNS Leroy Grumman, supply ship

German Navy:

  • P-6126 FGS Frettchen, fast attack craft, UNIFIL
  • P-6129 FGS Wiesel, fast attack craft, UNIFIL
  • A-53 FGS Oker, intelligence gathering ship

Royal Navy:

  • L-3008 RFA Mounts Bay, auxiliary landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • D-35 HMS Dragon, destroyer

Brazilian Navy

  • F-45 União, frigate, UNIFIL

Bangladeshi Navy

  • F-18 BNS Osman, frigate, UNIFIL
  • P-911 BNS Madhumati, large patrol craft, UNIFIL

Indonesian Navy

  • 365 KRI Diponegoro, corvette, UNIFIL

Greek Navy

  • P-69 HS Ypoploiarchos Kristallidis, fast attack craft, UNIFIL

French Navy

  • D-621 FS Chevalier Paul, frigate

Italian Navy

  • D-553 ITS Andera Doria, destroyer

Any additions and corrections to the list are welcomed.

Warships In The Eastern Mediterranean

As the bulk of the Royal Navy’s Response Force Task Group passes through the Suez Canal, and Russia sending two more warships southwards, it is time to update the list of the ships in East Mediterranean

This is the list of the naval vessels in the region i.e. east of Crete:

Russian Navy:

  • 548 Admiral Panteleyev, destroyer
  • 127 Minsk, large landing ship
  • 142 Novocharkassk, large landing ship
  • 055 BDK-98, large landing ship
  • 077 Peresvet, large landing ship
  • 151 Azov, large landing ship
  • SSV-201 Priazove, intelligence gathering ship
  • PM-138, repair ship
  • MB-304, tug
  • Pechenga, tanker
  • 810 Smetlivy, destroyer – ETA 3 days
  • 152 Nikolay Filchenkov, large landing ship – ETA 3 days

US Navy:

  • DDG-52 USS Barry, destroyer
  • DDG-107 USS Gravely, destroyer
  • DDG-61 USS Ramage, destroyer
  • DDG-55 USS Stout, destroyer
  • LPD-17 USS San Antonio, amphibious transport dock
  • T-AO-195 USNS Leroy Grumman, supply ship

German Navy:

  • P-6126 FGS Frettchen, fast attack craft, UNIFIL
  • P-6129 FGS Wiesel, fast attack craft, UNIFIL
  • A-53 FGS Oker, intelligence gathering ship

Royal Navy:

  • L-3008 RFA Mounts Bay, auxiliary landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • L-3007 RFA Lyme Bay, auxiliary landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • L-15 HMS Bulward, landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • F-236 HMS Montrose, frigate, Cougar 2013

Brazilian Navy

  • F-45 União, frigate, UNIFIL

Bangladeshi Navy

  • F-18 BNS Osman, frigate, UNIFIL
  • P-911 BNS Madhumati, large patrol craft, UNIFIL

Indonesian Navy

  • 365 KRI Diponegoro, corvette, UNIFIL

Greek Navy

  • P-69 HS Ypoploiarchos Kristallidis, fast attack craft, UNIFIL

French Navy

  • D-621 FS Chevalier Paul, destroyer

Italian Navy

  • D-553 ITS Andera Doria, destroyer

Any additions and corrections to the list are welcomed.

The Situation In The Eastern Mediterranean (Part 12)

After my first post of the ships in East Mediterranean, I have received numerous responses in forms of blog comments and tweets. I thank every one who contributed.

This is the list of the naval vessels in the region i.e. east of Crete:

Russian Navy:

  • 548 Admiral Panteleyev, destroyer
  • 127 Minsk, large landing ship
  • 142 Novocharkassk, large landing ship
  • 055 BDK-98, large landing ship
  • 077 Peresvet, large landing ship
  • 151 Azov, large landing ship
  • SSV-201 Priazove, intelligence gathering ship
  • PM-138, repair ship
  • MB-304, tug
  • Pechenga, tanker

US Navy:

  • DDG-52 USS Barry, destroyer
  • DDG-107 USS Gravely, destroyer
  • DDG-61 USS Ramage, destroyer
  • DDG-55 USS Stout, destroyer
  • LPD-17 USS San Antonio, amphibious transport dock
  • T-AO-195 USNS Leroy Grumman, supply ship

German Navy:

  • P-6126 FGS Frettchen, fast attack craft, UNIFIL
  • P-6129 FGS Wiesel, fast attack craft, UNIFIL
  • A-53 FGS Oker, intelligence gathering ship

Royal Navy:

  • L-3008 RFA Mounts Bay, auxiliary landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • L-3007 RFA Lyme Bay, auxiliary landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • L-15 HMS Bulward, landing ship, Cougar 2013
  • F-236 HMS Montrose, frigate, Cougar 2013

Brazilian Navy

  • F-45 União, frigate, UNIFIL

Bangladeshi Navy

  • F-18 BNS Osman, frigate, UNIFIL
  • P-911 BNS Madhumati, large patrol craft, UNIFIL

Indonesian Navy

  • 365 KRI Diponegoro, corvette, UNIFIL

Greek Navy

  • P-69 HS Ypoploiarchos Kristallidis, fast attack craft, UNIFIL

French Navy

  • D-621 FS Chevalier Paul, destroyer

Italian Navy

  • D-553 ITS Andera Doria, destroyer

Any additions and corrections to the list are welcomed.

What Really Happened To Flight Şafak 46?

Exactly one month ago, on 22 June 2012 one RF-4ETM Phantom II airplane call sign Şafak 46 from 173. Squadron of Turkish Air force took off from Erhaç airbase.

The mission of the plane was to help to the calibration of a radar in Hatay Turkey. All radar and radio contact with the plane was lost on 11:57 am local time.

The first official announcement made by Turkish General Staff on the same day, was that the contact with the plane was lost and a search and rescue operation has been initiated.

On the same day late at night it was announced by the prime minister that the lost plane was shot down by Syria. This claim was later accepted by Syrian news agency SANA. Syria claimed that they have shot down the Turkish plane inside the Syrian airspace with anti aircraft gun fire believing it was an Israeli plane. Turkey responded to these claims that the plane was not in a covert operation and its communication and IFF systems were open and operational and the plane was shot down by Syria outside of the Syrian air space. The radar tracks of the plane published both by Turkey and Syria showed that Şafak 46 did flew through the Syrian airspace 5 minutes long. The plane left the Syrian airspace ten minutes before it was shot down and never entered again. Turkey insisted that this was an navigation error and the flight control in Turkey warned the plane about this error.

Between 22 and 26 June 2012, Turkish Navy and Coast Guard units searched an area of 70 x 23 nautical miles and found some floating debris. The naval research ship TCG Çeşme located some underwater targets suitable to be the wreckage of the plane with its side scan sonar. but it was the US owned research vessel R/V Nautilus and its ROV’s that found the wreckage on 5th July 2012, 8,6 nautical miles from Syrian coast and recovered the bodies of the pilot Captain Gökhan ERTAN and WSO Lieutenant Hasan Hüseyin AKSOY.

R/V Nautilus also provided images from the wreckage with its high definition video camera and/or digital stereo still cameras.

Up to that point the incident was more or less clear event. An unarmed Turkish military reconnaissance plane was shot by Syria either inside the Syrian air space by anti aircraft guns; according to Syrian claims or outside of the Syrian air space by anti aircraft missile (as the range of the Syrian AAA cannot reach targets flying outside the Syrian airspace) according to Turkish claims.

On 11th July 2012 Turkish General Staff made an announcement about this incident and stated and the from the investigations conducted on the pieces of wreckage salvaged from the bottom of the sea and from the items found floating on the surface showed no evidence of any petroleum based fire incendiary or accelerator. Furthermore there was no evidence of any organic and inorganic explosive material residue.

In the same statement it was also announced that there were no evidence of the wreckage of the plane that it was shot down by AAA fire.

That statement created more questions and served as source for more conspiracy theories.

Two days later Turkish General Staff made to make another announcement stating that the evidence shows that the plane was not shot down by anti-aircraft guns and the exact way to determine how the plane was shot down by Syria will be possible after salvaging remaining larger parts of the plane from the sea floor.

Now this is a problem. While she was on the scene the equipment of R/V Nautilus provided very important information and it was possible to bring smaller pieces from the plane to surface. But R/V Nautilus is now in the Black Sea and is conducting scientific research as she was scheduled to do. My understanding is that there was a behind the door agreement between USA and Turkey to use the ship for a short period of time to recover the bodies of the pilots and to locate the plane. Now with R/V Nautilus away, Turkey had to create means to recover the plane. This is why the US-based Phoenix Marine, Inc., an underwater services company was awarded with an undisclosed contract to salvage the remains of the RF-4ETM.

Until the Phoenix Marine Inc. completes its work we have to speculate what really happened to Şafak 46, although I am pretty sure that because Eastern Med is a hot place right now and USA, Russia, UK, Israel, and Cyprus and many other states are focused to this region must have been witness the shooting of the Turkish plane. Will they come forward with their information is another question.

 

For further analysis about the shooting of Şafak 46 read this excellent article.

USA Financially Assists Georgia To Build A New Naval Maintenance Facility

Ambassador John Bass and Minister of Internal Affairs Zaza Gogava. Photo: State Dept

According to well informed website navaltoday.com, USA is giving at least 4 million USD to Georgia for the construction of a new naval maintenance facility.

Ambassador Bass and Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Zaza Gogava broke ground on a U.S.-funded Georgia Coast Guard ship maintenance facility near Poti harbor. Georgia Coast Guard ship maintenance facility estimated at $4 million is part of a $10 million package of assistance provided by the U.S. Export Control and Border Security​ (EXBS) program to the Georgian Government.

Ambassador Bass spoke about the significance of the U.S. assistance to Georgia in enhancing its border security. The U.S. aid comes at a time when Georgia’s coastal cities are experiencing a steady increase in maritime trade and tourism requiring increased Coast Guard patrols. The U.S. Government through the EXBS program helps the Georgian Coast Guard sustain its ability to quickly and efficiently respond to incidents at sea for the benefit and safety of Georgia’s citizens and international visitors. The assistance demonstrates the commitment of the U.S. to Georgia to help it enhance its security.

This not the first facility USA is helping Georgia to build. In 2010 a coastal  radar station was opened  in  Anaklia, Georgia. This station was last of the three radar stations funded and builds by USA through, US Army Corps of Engineers.

USA presence in Georgia and its back up to this country will certainly continue to irritate Russia furthermore.

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