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Turkish Naval Forces Sail on Territorial Waters with Blue Homeland Drill

The Turkish Naval Command conducted the Blue Homeland-2019 naval exercise with 103 military vessels in the Black Sea, Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean simultaneously between February 27 and March 08, 2019.

Coordinated by a team of 165 personnel from the Naval Warfare Center Command, the “Blue Homeland-2019 Naval Exercise” was carried out by the Turkish Naval Forces Command in line with the Turkish General Staff Annual Training Program. The preparations for the exercise began on February 26 with the participation of 13 Frigates, 6 Corvettes, 16 Fast Attack Boats, 7 Submarines, 7 Minehunters, 17 Auxiliary Ships, 14 Patrol Boats, 22 Landing Craft, and 1 Training Ship. The operational phase of the exercise started on February 27, following the departure of vessels and units from the Black Sea, Ereğli, Umuryeri, Gölcük, Erdek, Çanakkale, Foça, Aksaz, and İskenderun. Between February 27 and March 02, Turkish Navy ships and units performed ASUW (Anti-surface Warfare), AAW (Anti-aircraft Warfare), ASW (Anti-submarine Warfare), Naval Mine Warfare, EW (Electronic Warfare), VBSS (Visit, board, search, and seizure) and live-fire training to evaluate the operational capabilities and readiness (ORE) of the Turkish Naval Forces. Turkish Air Force and Turkish Land Forces also participated in the exercise and carried out joint training with Turkish Naval units by providing tactical air support. In addition, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Navy special operations teams (SAS and SAT commandos), Amphibious Marine Battalions, Land Forces Command Multi-purpose & Attack Helicopters, Air Force Command Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft, and Coast Guard Ships and Boats also took part in the exercise. On March 5, Turkish Navy units conducted a submarine rescue mission and an amphibious landing operation at Aksaz and Foça Naval Bases as part of training scenarios.

During the exercise, Turkish Naval Forces used ANKA and Bayraktar Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for the first time in naval operations.

In the Eastern Mediterranean part of the Exercise, Turkish Naval Forces vessels departed from Aksaz Naval Base in Marmaris and carried out various day and night training missions together with the Turkish Air Force during their voyage. The flotilla included 5 Frigates, 4 Fast Attack Boats, 2 Submarines, 2 Minehunters, one Amphibious Assault Ship, one Fleet Replenishment Tanker, 4 New Type Patrol Boats, one Coast Guard Search & Rescue Ship, 3 Auxiliary Ships as well as Navy special operations teams and amphibious assault units.

Arriving off the coast of Kaş, Antalya, the vessels commenced shore bombardment as part of Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) training. The ships delivered artillery fire to the predetermined targets at Beş Adalar area and hit all the targets on the islands with maximum accuracy.

Submarine Search and Rescue Training Executed with Absolute Success

In the Eastern Mediterranean part of the exercise, a submarine search & rescue training operation was also carried out. TCG Alemdar Submarine Rescue Mother Ship (MOSHIP) took part in the training off the coast Aksaz. As part of the scenario, TCG Çanakkale collided with a merchant ship while ascending to periscope depth from dive depth during an anti-submarine warfare operation. Rescue & towing Ship TCG Işın and minehunter TCG Anamur searched and located the position of the submarine approximately 80 meters below the surface. During the initial survey, the ships detected damage on the port side and the rudder blade of the vessel. The rescue operation started upon confirmation that 14 of the 47 personnel on board were injured. A submarine escape and rescue team airlifted to the scene as part of the scenario prepared the intensive care unit and the pressure chamber on TCG Alemdar for medical triage and emergency treatment. During the submarine rescue scenario, the rescued crew members were transferred to the related treatment areas following the medical examination.

TCG Burgazada Accomplished First Mission

Commissioned in November 2018, TCG Burgazada, the third of the Ada (Island) class corvettes produced under the National Ship (MİLGEM) Project, accomplished its first major mission during the Blue Homeland exercise. TCG Burgazada departed from Poyraz Harbor in Gölcük under an asymmetric threat from an approaching boat as part of a scenario. The ship fired warning shots then engaged and eliminated the target using Aselsan weapon systems.

In the continuation of the scenario, the national corvette destroyed a helicopter, which was reported to carry out an asymmetric attack on the base. The ship also performed “searched channel” training as part of naval mine countermeasure operation. SAT commandos landed on the ship’s deck with the fast-roping method from a hovering helicopter. The Seahawk model helicopter then took off from the ship and deployed “chaff” and “flare” countermeasure systems.

The North Aegean part of the exercise, commanded by Commander of Naval Forces Admiral Adnan Özbal, started with anti-aircraft warfare training. As part of the scenario, Turkish ships engaged target drones simulating enemy aircraft with anti-aircraft weapons.

More than ten warships, including TCG Burgazada, successfully destroyed the targets and completed the air defence training.

The Amphibious stage of the exercise began with marine infantry units, tanks, and armored vehicles boarding the indigenously built landing ship, TCG BAYRAKTAR, to land at the Hekimli Island located near the Izmir coast as part of the scenario.

Accompanied by landing ships, TCG Bayraktar departed from the Leventler Port inside the Foca Naval Base to Hekim island. Following their approach to the island, the vessels performed ship-to-ship (Limbo) operation.

As the water depth at the beachhead is not suitable for TCG Bayraktar to use its bow ramp, amphibious assault teams were launched from the ship with small landing crafts to divide the enemy forces positioned on the main landing area as part of the training scenario.

Tactical divers onboard the TCG Edremit minehunter used the Lightweight Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (HOSA) to identfy possible mines or dangerous objects in the sea which can cause a threat to the vessels and amphibious units approaching the island.

SAT and SAS commandos carried out underwater reconnaissance activities to detect mines and underwater obstacles in areas close to the coast. A Navy special operations team secured the landing area by infiltrating the enemy coast. Other SAT teams arriving with boats disarmed the mine at the beachhead for the approaching landing crafts.

When the beach was secured and cleared from mines, amphibious infantry units landed on the island with boats.

The Turkish Land Forces Command also participated in the exercise and coordinated a joint training operation to test the UMTAS and CİRİT missile systems. The participating units performed simultaneous real-time combat maneuvers resembling crisis and wartime scenarios in the Black Sea, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, and the surrounding international waters.

Following the completion of the operational phase, the Turkish flotilla consisting of 67 ships conducted a total of 40 port visits in three seas between the dates of March 06-08, 2019. The port visits also included seven foreign ports in every littoral country in the Black Sea. Around 50 press members from national and international media organizations followed all stages of the exercise on the ground.