ISIS Threat to Russian Ships in Turkish Straits

File:Latrans-Turkey location Marmara Region.svg

Illustration: Turkey with the Straits and Sea of Marmara area in red, by “The Emirr.” Dardanelles to West of the Sea of Marmara and Bosphorus to the East. 

Following from the German Navy blog, Marine Forum, 16 May,

“After Turkish intelligence learned of Islamic State plans for attacks on Russian warships from ashore, Turkish authorities have beefed up security along the Turkish Straits and augmented escorts by Turkish Coast Guard.”

A number of the Russian Navy transits carry supplies to the Syrian Government Forces and Russian forces operating in Syria.

UAE’s New, and very well Armed OPV

UAE offshore patrol vessel Arialah

UAE offshore patrol vessel Arialah (note the concept above is incorrect in that the gun is a BAE 57mm rather than the 76mm illustrated).

DefenseNews reports first impressions of a new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) built for UAE’s Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Agency (CICPA) shown at the NAVDEX (naval) portion of the IDEX international Defense Exposition in Abu Dhabi.

The ships are 67 meters (220 feet) in length, 11 meters (36 feet) of beam, and 5.4 meters (18 feet) of draft, with a speed of 20+ knots provided by four MTU engines driving four propellers.

Most of the armament is typical OPV, a 57 mm gun and two 30mm auto-cannon in remote weapon stations. What really sets it apart, is the Mk49 Rolling Airframe Missile launcher.

On the other hand, the UAE is just across the Straits of Hormuz from Iran and their shore based anti-ship cruise missiles.

Photo: Mk49 guided missile launch system for Rolling Airframe Missile

An earlier post provides a bit more detail on the program but it appears to have a couple of errors regarding the weapon systems (indicates a 76mm as seen in the first illustration vice 57mm and says the Mk49 launcher has 11 cells rather than the actual 21). There are to be two of this class, both to be delivered this year.

“The ships themselves will be delivered from Damen’s Galati shipyard in Romania in 2017; they will then go to ADSB’s facility in Abu Dhabi’s Mussafah industrial area for combat systems installation and integration prior to delivery to the CICPA.”

This looks like a straight forward adaptation of one of Damen’s designs for Offshore Industry Support Vessels with boats, helo deck, ESM/ECM, weapons and sensors added.

According to this older source, the Coast Guard was involved in the development of the SEA AXE Bow.

“Damen … has developed the sea axe bow design in partnership with the University of Delft, Royal Netherlands Navy, US Coast Guard and the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands.”

Turkey’s OPC

DOST class, Turkish CG

Photo: NavalAnalyses.Blogspot.Com. Click on the photo to enlarge

The German Navy Blog “Marine Forum,”

“5 January, Turkey, Acting on a tip-off / intelligence input, Turkish Coast Guard ships „Yasam“ and „Umut“ intercept Bolivian-flagged freighter „Joudi“ in international waters off Tobruk (Libya) … after receiving Bolivian government permission to board and search ship, boarding team finds 13 tonnes of cannabis.
“(rmks: first such action distant from Turkish waters; made feasible with induction of large DOST class patrol ships–emphasis applied–Chuck)”

So I looked up the class. The four ships of this class are the largest vessels in the Turkish Coast Guard. The next largest are only 210 tons. They are based on the Italian Sirio Class patrol vessels which operate under the Italian Navy but were paid for by the Transport and Navigation Ministry. I suspect the Sirio Class (appropriately modified) may have been the basis of the Marinette Marine’s OPC proposal.

Specs for the Turkish ships from my Combat Fleets of the World, 16th ed. with my translation to English units are:

  • Displacement: 1,700 tons (full load)
  • Overall Length: 88.4m (292 ft)
  • Length at Waterline: 80.3m (265 ft)
  • Beam: 12.2m (40.26 ft)
  • Draught: 4.6m (15.2 ft)
  • Speed: 22 knots
  • Power 4 MTU 16V, diesels, 2CP props, 14,120 BHP

The Gun: The Beda Bofors twin 40mm/70 gun is not a bad choice. It has been around for a while and it has improved over time. Current models are rated at 450 rounds per minute per barrel for 900 rounds per minute for the twin mount. That is faster than a .50 cal. M2 machine gun. The Italian Navy used this as a CIWS before switching to the improved 120 round per minute 76mm. It also has adequate range, 13,675 yards (12,500 m). This is less range than either a 57mm or 76mm, but adequate for most Coast Guard missions. There are at least four different projectiles available. The standard projectiles are about two pounds. There is also a high velocity solid tungsten alloy rod armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot (APFSDS) projectile that would probably be good for destroying fairly large diesel engines. .

If I read this correctly, the video is 380 rounds in 43 seconds.

Also from “Combat Fleets” this on the Turkish Coast Guard.

“Personnel: Approx. 2,200 total including 800 regulars and 1,400 conscripts, plus 1,050 on loan from the navy.

“Aviation: Coast Guard air assets include one Maule MX-7 light fixed-wing  and three CASA CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft (the basic airframe for the HC-144, Chuck). Three Austa-Bell AB-206B Helicopters and thirteen search and rescue configured Agusta-Bell 412 helicopters. The aircraft are pained white with an orange diagonal stripe.”

Ramblings on the Russian Naval Attack on Syria

You have probably heard that Four Russian naval vessels based in the Caspian Sea have launched 26 missiles against targets in Syria. This attack demonstrates a capability similar to that of the US Tomahawk missile.

What you might not realize is how small the Russians ships that launched the attack really were. While the US surface vessels equipped with Tomahawk are Burke class destroyers and Ticonderoga class cruisers of 8,000 to 10,000 tons, the Russian operation involved only a one small frigate and three small corvettes. The corvettes were smaller than a 210, and the frigate was less than two thirds the size of a 378. All four were considerably smaller than the projected Offshore Patrol Cutter. All four together displace only slightly more than a single Bertholf class.

The largest ship, Dagestan, is a Gepard class light frigate or large corvette, 1,930 tons (full load), 102.14 m (335.1 ft) in length overall, 13.09 m (42.9 ft) of beam, with eight Kalibr (SS-N-27) anti-surface missiles, SA-N-4 AAW missiles, a 76.2 mm gun, two six barreled 30 mm guns, four 533 mm (21″) heavy weight torpedo tubes, and an RBU-6000 ASW  rocket launcher.

The other three, Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich, Veliky Ustyug, were Buyan-M class corvettes, displacing 950 tons full load, with a maximum speed of 25 knots, armed with Kalibr (SS-N-27) anti-surface missiles, 100-mm and 30-mm guns, and Igla-1M air defense missiles.

While the US Navy has begun talking about distributed lethality, the Russians are practicing it.

Certainly the Coast Guard is not going to arm their ships like this in peacetime, but we might want to keep the possibility in mind if things start to go south.


Weapons Interdicted in the Arabian Sea

This is one of several reports I have seen of the interdiction a dhow carrying weapons believed to have been en route from Iran to Yemen.

There are a number of unanswered questions about this operation. We don’t know who did the initial intercept and boarding. We don’t really know where the vessel was going.

What we do know is that the cargo included a number of anti-tank weapons, most of which were dumped at sea. A USN destroyer, USS Forrest Sherman, arrived on scene after the initial intercept to assist in the investigation. The dhow and its crew were released after the arms were confiscated.

I strongly suspect Coast Guard personnel may have been involved in this operation, if not directly, at least to the extent that they were involved in the training of those that were directly involved. Hopefully we will learn more in the future.

Israel Builds an OPC with a Difference


NavyRecognition has some more details about the four 90 meter, 2,000 ton OPV/Corvettes Israel ordered on 22 Dec.2014 that we talked about earlier.

Feeling more immediate threats than the US, Israel’s priorities are of course different from our own. Range and seakeeping are less important, while military capabilities have come to the fore.

They will have a non-rotating multi-function solid-state active phased array radar system (a sort of mini-Aegis system) integrated into the two masts, a 76 mm gun, two Typhoon gun systems essentially the same as our Mk38 mod2s like those on the Webber Class, Vertical Launch Systems for the Barak medium range AAW missile system, the shorter range C-Dome point defense system that uses the Iron Dome interceptor, and what appears to be 16 launchers for anti-ship cruise missiles, probably Harpoon.

The NavyRecognition post does not talk much about its ASW capability, other than to say that they will have 324mm torpedo launchers and facilities for support of a SH-60 helicopter, but since the much smaller Saar5 corvettes have both a hull mounted sonar and a towed array, these are likely to be included as well.

While we will certainly not load up our OPC with weapons like this, it does show how much combat power can be incorporated in a small ship