About 20 combat and supply ships and one thousand officers and men are participating in the ongoing military exercise of Russia’s Baltic Fleet, the fleet’s spokesman Roman Martov told TASS.
“About 20 combat ships, boats and logistics ships and 50 pieces of military and special equipment, as well as one thousand men are involved in command staff training of the Baltic Fleet,” he said.
Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Nosatov is in charge of the exercises. The main task is to enhance officers’ skills and competence and cooperation by command centers, as well as to practice coordination with other units.
The exercise is being held in accordance with the Baltic Fleet’s combat training schedule for 2017.
The German Navy’s F122, Bremen-class frigate FGS ‘Lübeck’ is joining NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2 in the Aegean Sea.
Setting sail on August 21, Lübeck will be replacing another German ship, F123 frigate FGS Brandenburg, which spent six months as the flagship of the international task group.
Commenting on the deployment, Lübeck’s commander, Frigate Captain Matthias Schmitt, said the ship’s main task will be to support Greek and Turkish authorities and the European border agency Frontex in controlling and preventing human smuggling activities in the Aegean Sea.
Lübeck is expected to reach Turkish waters by the beginning of September when it will take over the duties of FGS Brandenburg after a handover ceremony.
The crew of Lübeck are set to return to their homeport of Wilhelmshaven mid-November.
Returning home in September will be the crew of FGS Brandenburg, the lead ship of the German Navy’s four F123 frigates.
They are completing an eventful deployment which got off to a rather bad start after the ship ran aground in Greece while departing the port of Piraeus. Brandenburg damaged her rudder and both propellers and was sidelined for a month between April and May.
The ship returned to operations with the NATO group, however, completing her scheduled deployment.
War planes streaked through the sky, more than 1,500 troops marched, and long lines of military vehicles thundered through the centre of the Polish capital as the country marked Armed Forces Day with a bang on Tuesday.
As in previous years, troops from other NATO countries joined the annual parade, among them American, Canadian, British and Romanian units that have been deployed to help strengthen the Western military alliance’s eastern flank.
There were also soldiers from more than a dozen other allied and partner states, including Croatia, Spain, Germany and Ukraine.
Crowds of onlookers
The Warsaw parade attracted crowds of onlookers and featured 200 or so army vehicles including self-propelled howitzers, battle tanks and missile launchers. Among the hardware on show were Leopard and Twardy tanks, Rosomak armoured vehicles, Langusta missile launchers and Osa mobile air defence missile systems.
The crowd could also catch a glimpse of American Stryker armoured vehicles and Jackal and Panther vehicles used by the British army. Romanian troops showcased weaponry including Oerlikon anti-aircraft guns.
Marching detachments included students of military academies and members of paramilitary organisations. For the first time, the country’s new territorial defence force joined the event, observers noted.
Taking to the skies
More than 60 aircraft contributed to the show, which began with the Red-and-White Sparks, an aerobatic demonstration team of the Polish air force. It staged a colourful flyover, leaving a trail of smoke in national colours. There were also SW-4 Puszczyk, W-3 Sokół, Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters, accompanied by American Apache, Chinook and Black Hawk machines.
Also flying past were CASA C-295M, Hercules and Bryza transport airplanes as well as Orlik training planes. The air show closed with F-16, MiG-29 and Su-22 fighter jets soaring across the sky.
The parade was followed by a picnic in a city park where people could get inside some of the military vehicles and inspect a variety of historical hardware on display.
The August 15 celebration marks Poland’s landmark victory against the Russian Bolsheviks in the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish troops led by Marshal Józef Piłsudski defeated an advancing Red Army despite being vastly outnumbered.
The day was first celebrated as a holiday from 1923 to 1947, and then restored as Armed Forces Day in 1992 after decades of Soviet-imposed communism.
Russia’s Navy will receive another two of the project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class submarines by the end of 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“Two project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class diesel-electric submarines named Petropavlovsk-Kanchatsky and Volkhov will be added to the Russian navy by the end of 2020, provided that their in-plant and state tests go well,” the statement reads. The ministry pointed out that the two submarines had been laid down in Russia’s St. Petersburg before the Navy Day.
Project 636.6 Varshavyanka is the third-generation diesel-electric submarine with a maximum surface speed of 20 knots. These submarines are capable of submerging to a depth of 300 meters, the period of their autonomous navigation is 45 days. The crew comprises 52 men.
The Project 636 submarines are considered to be the quietest of the Russian-made submarines, this being the reason why NATO gave them the reporting name of ‘Black Holes’. These submarines are equipped with modern radar systems, communications tools, hydroacoustic stations, 533 mm torpedo launchers and the Kalibr cruise missiles.
In the past several years, Russia’s Navy has already received six Project 636.6 Varshavyanka-class submarines, which were added to the Black Sea Fleet.
In May and June 2017, a Varshavyanka-class submarine named Krasnodar, traveling in the Mediterranean Sea, fired the Kalibr cruise missiles on the ground facilities of the Islamic State terrorist Group (outlawed in Russia), located in Syria.
August 8, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown joins Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) today on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic Ocean, and Baltic Sea as part of Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.
On its second deployment under Op REASSURANCE, HMCS Charlottetown replaces HMCS St. John’s, which arrived in its home port of Halifax on July 17, 2017, after a six-month deployment.
The deployment of HMCS Charlottetown demonstrates Canada’s ongoing commitment to international security and cooperation as part of NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Canada’s participation in regional maritime security operations as part of NATO assurance activities is another demonstration of Canada’s ongoing commitment to international security and cooperation. The excellent crew of the HMCS Charlottetown is demonstrating our continued leadership on the world stage by making meaningful and enduring contributions to NATO activities in Eastern and Central Europe.”
— Harjit S. Sajjan, Defence Minister
“The highly trained and professional ship’s company is well prepared to meet the challenges of this mission. HMCS Charlottetown is committed to further increase the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to work alongside our Allies, contribute to enhancing NATO readiness, and help strengthen international and regional stability.”
— Commander Jeff Hutt, Commanding Officer, HMCS Charlottetown
HMCS Charlottetown is a Halifax-class frigate with a crew of approximately 240 personnel of all ranks, including an Enhanced Naval Boarding Party and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter air detachment.
The Enhanced Naval Boarding Party provides a relatively new capability for the Royal Canadian Navy that is used in support of maritime interdiction operations.
HMCS Charlottetown’s deployment is part of a range of military activities undertaken by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures through the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations, and assigned NATO tasks and demonstrates Canada’s commitment to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.
During its first deployment in support of Op REASSURANCE, HMCS Charlottetown conducted maritime security operations and joint NATO training exercises between June 2016 and January 2017, in the North Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean, Aegean and Baltic Seas, as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2).
The Standing NATO Maritime Groups are multinational, integrated maritime forces made up of vessels from various Allied countries. These vessels are made available to NATO to perform different tasks ranging from exercises to operational missions. They also help to establish Alliance presence, demonstrate solidarity, conduct routine diplomatic visits to different countries, support partner engagement, and provide a variety of maritime military capabilities to ongoing missions.
Commander Jeff Hutt, from Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, has served in the CAF since 1998. After his initial naval training, he was assigned to HMCS Charlottetown and was twice deployed with the ship to the Arabian Sea. On board HMCS Athabaskan, he served in Operation HESTIA, Canada’s response to the earthquake in Haiti. He was Chief of Staff to the Commander of Naval Reserves in Quebec City from July 2015 to December 2016.
Operation REASSURANCE refers to the military activities undertaken by the CAF since 2014 to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Eastern and Central Europe, aimed at reinforcing NATO’s collective defence and demonstrating the strength of Allied solidarity.
Department of National Defence
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A U.S. F/A-18 fighter jet suffering an engine problem crash landed Saturday at Bahrain International Airport and its pilot ejected from the aircraft after it ran off the runway, authorities said. The pilot escaped unharmed.
The crash disrupted flights to and from the island nation off the coast of Saudi Arabia that’s home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Images on social media showed the grey fighter jet’s nose tipped into the air but largely intact after what the Navy described as an “uncontrollable” landing.
The F/A-18 took off from the USS Nimitz, an aircraft carrier now in the Persian Gulf, said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a fleet spokesman. While in flight, the plane suffered an engine malfunction, forcing the pilot to divert, Urban said.
The pilot initially tried to land at Sheikh Isa Air Base in Bahrain, but instead ended up at the island’s commercial airport, Urban said.
“Due to the malfunction, the aircraft could not be stopped on the runway and the pilot ejected from the aircraft as it departed the runway,” the commander said in a statement.
Naval officials began an investigation into the crash and were trying to help the airport resume operations, Urban said. Bahrain’s Transportation and Telecommunications Ministry called the crash landing a “minor incident” in a statement and said flights resumed at the airport several hours later.
Bahrain hosts 8,000 U.S. troops, mostly sailors attached to a sprawling base called the Naval Support Activity. Officials at that facility oversee some 20 U.S. and coalition naval vessels in the Gulf providing security and others running anti-piracy patrols.
Bahrain is also home to an under-construction British naval base.
The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) arrived in Tallinn for a scheduled port visit over the weekend to to replenish the ship’s supplies and prepare for upcoming exercises.
During the visit the vessels are to make preparations for returning to sea and will give members of the crew the chance to rest for a few days, military spokespeople in Tallinn said. After the visit the NATO ships will remain in Estonia to carry out several exercises and be prepared for the upcoming mine clearance operation.
“The presence of NATO naval units and the clearance of World War era mines will make Estonian waterways safer for us all,” Cmdr. Peeter Ivask, commander of the fleet of the Estonian Navy, said.
Head of the SNMCMG1 Lt. Capt. Gvido Laudups on Friday also visited the headquarters of the Estonian defense forces and the NATO command element and met with Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general of the Defense Ministry for defense planning.
As of June 29, SNMCMG1 is headed by Latvian Lt. Capt. Gvido Laudups, who took over the position from Estonian Cmdr. Johan-Elias Seljamaa of the Estonian Navy. The flagship of the group is the Latvian Navy’s support vessel LVNS Virsaitis. The Estonian minehunter Sakala is also part of the international unit this half-year.
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy is looking at ways to accelerate the phase-out of F/A-18C “Classic” Hornet strike fighters from its carrier air wings and replacing the last few squadrons with F/A-18E Super Hornets, a Navy spokeswoman said.
“As we balance operational requirements and our initiatives to build the most capable and ready forward-deployed force, we are identifying the most efficient and effective way to safely transition the last four Navy operational Hornet squadrons to Super Hornets,” Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld, public affairs officer for commander, Naval Air Forces, said in an e-mail to Seapower.
“In order to provide our most capable warfighting force forward, the Navy began the first of the final transitions of our four operational F/A-18C Hornet squadrons to F/A-18E Super Hornet squadrons in July, with an expected completion in [fiscal] ’19. Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, was the first of the four squadrons to begin the transition last month.”
The other three F/A-18C squadrons, all based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., are VFA-34, VFA-37 and VFA-83.
“Accelerating the transition to Super Hornets will allow cost savings and reduce depot maintenance workload,” Groeneveld said. “As the Navy approaches the end of the extended service life for Hornets, the cost per flight hour continues to increase. Additionally, there are shortages in the Department of the Navy’s spare parts and supply system that have contributed to flight line readiness challenges, as well as our ability to extend the service lives of these airframes.”
She also said the transitions give the Navy the opportunity to select its best-condition Hornets for use by the Marine Corps and by Navy support and reserve units, such as Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, Fighter Composite Squadron 12, Reserve squadron VFA-204 and the Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
The Navy is confident it will be able to continue to support all operational requirements as it completes transition of the Hornet fleet to Super Hornets,” she said.
Congress has supported the Navy’s requirements for increased Super Hornet procurement to bridge the gap to the fleet introduction of the F-35C Lightning II strike fighter. The first fleet squadron to make the transition to the F-35C will be VFA-147 in 2018.
ALAMEDA, Calif. — U.S. Coast Guardsmen and U.S. Navy Sailors conducted shipboard dive operations from a Coast Guard cutter in the Arctic July 29 for the first time since two Coast Guard divers perished in a subsurface accident almost 11 years ago, the Coast Guard said in a Aug. 10 release.
Shipboard Arctic dive operations increase the Coast Guard’s ability to assure year-round access for national security, sovereign presence and increased maritime domain awareness in the region. The shipboard dive operations also highlighted the interoperability between joint Coast Guard and Navy dive teams.
The Coast Guard conducted a comprehensive dive program review following a incident on Aug. 17, 2006, that killed Lt. Jessica Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Duque during an ice dive in the Arctic Ocean aboard Coast Guard Cutter Healy. In the years following the accident, the Coast Guard improved diving proficiency and retention by making diving a primary duty and created the first three regional dive lockers to centralize control, training and operations.
The joint dive operation from Healy July 29 marked the culmination of this increased oversight, training and proficiency. The crew of Healy and joint dive team held a memorial to honor the fallen divers during the cutter’s current Arctic patrol.
“There is no prospect more sobering than the death of a crew member,” said Capt. Greg Tlapa, commanding officer of Healy. “We honor the memory of our shipmates, Lt. Hill and Petty Officer 2nd Class Duque, and will never forget their sacrifices. It gives our crew great pride to re-establish dive capabilities to Healy and meet the subsurface needs and challenges our service will face in the coming years in the Arctic.”
The joint dive team included personnel from Coast Guard Regional Dive Lockers San Diego and Honolulu and U.S. Navy Puget Sound Naval Shipyard Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Wash. Navy divers supported cold water and ice dives by providing an independent duty corpsman/dive medical technician and by conducting joint training using the Navy’s recompression chamber currently deployed aboard Healy.
“I’m humbled to be a part of such a historic operation, honoring our shipmates by reintroducing Coast Guard shipboard dive operations to the Arctic,” said Chief Petty Officer Chuck Ashmore from Coast Guard’s Joint Regional Dive Locker West in San Diego.
Divers are the Coast Guard’s primary resource for the service’s subsurface capabilities and perform a full spectrum of Coast Guard missions, including maintenance and repair to aids to navigation, underwater inspections and maintenance on icebreakers and other cutters, surveying critically endangered species habitats, assistance to marine casualty investigations and supporting search and rescue operations.
Healy, homeported in Seattle, is a 420-foot long medium icebreaker with extensive scientific capabilities and is the nation’s premier high-latitude research vessel. Healy’s missions include scientific support, search and rescue, ship escort, environmental protection and the enforcement of laws and treaties in the Polar regions.