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Hannibal

Would it be possible for US to park a couple of Carrier groups in the Black Sea ?

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Guest BigDukeSixField

Just an update, I read now the Turks have decided to allow three US warships through the Dardenelles and the Bosphorus, of which one is a Coast Guard cutter. Reports are mixed on the other two vessels. Some say it will be two US hospital ships "Comfort" and "Mercy", other reports say no it's some other warships. Don't have an ETA.

FYI there seems to have been some discussion between the Turks and the Americans as to whether the two US hospital ships are in fact warships. The Montreaux convention as I understand it allows non-Black Sea nations to send 45,000 deadweight of warships through the straits at a pop; apparently the hospital ships if considered warships were well over that limit.

I also read a report that one of the hospital ships is in the US and it would be five weeks before it showed up by Georgia, which if true would be so after the fact most Georgians will have probably forgotten why it is the Americans had showed up in the first place.

Stay tuned...

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I also read a report that one of the hospital ships is in the US and it would be five weeks before it showed up by Georgia, which if true would be so after the fact most Georgians will have probably forgotten why it is the Americans had showed up in the first place.

Stay tuned...

One of them (I think Mercy) was over here in the Pacific last week on exercises. I know that because a sick Australian hiker was evaced onto it from Papua New Guinea.

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Update...Tom Clancy time...

The Burke-class destroyer USS McFaul was sighted passing the Dardenelles heading north today. A Polish warship (minesweeper?) was escorting. These two vessels are en route reportedly to Batumi, which is some distance from the Georgian port Poti, where the Russians are set up.

Also, there is a NATO exercise planned near Bulgaria. So, warships including German frigate Lübeck, Spanish Admiral Juan den Borbon, among others, have been in the Black Sea since Thursday. However, they may deliver "humanitarian aid" to Georgia. Five other NATO warships are scheduled to show up this week, they are "rocket ships" according to Russian military statement. Two of the en route five are US according to one wire service report, and the USS Dallas, an attack submarine, seems to have operated with the McFaul in these regions in the past.

So, accidentally or intentionally, it appears NATO is assembling a nice little destroyer/frigate squadron in the Black Sea.

Of course, the road and rail between Batumi and Tbilisi is cut (Russian army engineers blew up a RR bridge, and a fine job they did too), so "humanitarian aid" will have little short-term effect. But ya gotta admit, it was pretty neat the way NATO dodged the Montreaux convention: the 45,000 ton limit is per country, and since NATO is lots of countries, and each one sends a frigate, you can get a pretty good little fighting element in there and still stay within the rules.

Even better is, apparently the Bulgarians, Romanians, and Ukrainians also are contributing a ship to the NATO "exercise". The command and control must be a real mess of course. But on the other hand look at it from the Russian POV - they invade Georgia (with fair provocation maybe, but still they're invaders) and in less than two weeks NATO has assembled more ships in the Black Sea than Russia's Black Sea fleet managed to put to sea to attack Georgia.

And you know all those NATO swabbies are just itching to get into the newspapers, what with the land/air forces grabbing all the glory in Afghanistan and/or Iraq.

Anyway, the really interesting bit is that most of the Russian warships based in Sevastopol, more commonly known as Black Sea Fleet HQ, arrived there on Friday or Saturday. So neatly enough most of the Russian navy went home just at the same time the NATO navy showed up. Almost like they were taking turns using the Black Sea, eh?

If the Cold War weren't over, I would say it was all planned to avoid an East-West confrontation.

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Iran's naval capacity is zip (especially in the Black Sea!). Their navy has been pretty much in mothballs since the Revolution. The Revolutionary Guards took over most of the offensive duties in the Gulf and that's mainly just fast attack boats and a handful of Chinese model missile craft.

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Update...Tom Clancy time...

These two vessels are en route reportedly to Batumi, which is some distance from the Georgian port Poti, where the Russians are set up.

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So neatly enough most of the Russian navy went home just at the same time the NATO navy showed up. Almost like they were taking turns using the Black Sea, eh?

If the Cold War weren't over, I would say it was all planned to avoid an East-West confrontation.

Poti is still the key.

Don't need the ships there if you hold the port. Nato can steam in circles all they want.

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McFaul has dropped anchor off Batumi. The harbor is too shallow for the destroyer, so the "humanitarian aid" is getting unloaded by floating crane and lighter.

The Beeb said the Americans said as four more US warships are en route. Next scheduled to show up on station are the above-mentioned German and Spanish frigates.

Reports from Poti are a bit conflicting. The Russians clearly control the approaches to/from the port, but the port itself is functional, this from port management.

In other news a Georgian train blew up near Gori. Prevailing theory is the Russians left a mine on the tracks and the Georgians didn't find it.

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Look at a map.

Georgia is about the only way to get resources into and out of the 'stans without having to pay off the Russians.

You can geographically bring out resources through Armenia and Azerbaidjan. The reason this is not done is that Azerbaidjan and Armenia have a troubled relationship, AFAIK.

All the best

Andreas

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Interestingly, the rail link the Russians trashed on the Tbilisi-Poti line is so critical to regional goods, that the Azeris and the Armenians are helping the Georgians get traffic going again. The Georgians were really impressed, the Azeris and the Armenians never cooperate on anything, but business is business and without a port the whole Caucasus region can't do much business.

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BigDukeSixField,

Am told the water level in the Black Sea is down markedly from its historic shoreline, wreaking havoc on navigation as a result of drought and pumping lots of water out for industrial and municipal use. Is this true? Am further told large parts aren't carrier navigable. Nimitz class draws ~ 12 meters.

Also, saw a piece on the Net while doing research about some tug firm that has been trapped in the Black Sea for months towing the hulk of the ex-Varyag carrier, sold to become a Chinese casino--supposedly. The Turks won't issue clearance papers and keep offering objections, including the difficulties of getting the thing through the 15 turns that make the Bosphorous, only 200 meters wide in places. Speculation is that the casino thing's merely a front for the Chinese military, a suspicion reinforced by the latest Turkish suggestion--"Cut it in half."

Regards,

John Kettler

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Speculation is that the casino thing's merely a front for the Chinese military...

That's always been my suspicion. The Chinese are clearly angling towards developing a true blue water navy, including carriers. Since they are new to the carrier game, a good way to start would be to study the construction of a modern carrier. Not that the ex-Soviet models were the best of the breed, but I suspect that at the time, the Russians were the only ones willing to sell them one, or at least with one to sell.

Michael

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I would have thought the French would have sold them whatever they wanted. They've had the Clemenceau lying in Brest for two years because nobody wanted to scrap it. (But I think they have found someone now.)

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Also, saw a piece on the Net while doing research about some tug firm that has been trapped in the Black Sea for months towing the hulk of the ex-Varyag carrier, sold to become a Chinese casino--supposedly. The Turks won't issue clearance papers and keep offering objections, including the difficulties of getting the thing through the 15 turns that make the Bosphorous, only 200 meters wide in places. Speculation is that the casino thing's merely a front for the Chinese military, a suspicion reinforced by the latest Turkish suggestion--"Cut it in half."

Regards,

John Kettler

You would have been spot on if you had made this post in 2001.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_aircraft_carrier_Varyag#Towed_to_China

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As far as I know the Black Sea is quite deep and in many locations big ships can get in close to shore. The exception is the Sea of Azov, as that's shallow enough for off-shore drilling, but some big ships go in there as well. I know the Kerch Strait needs pilots and if you don't know the way through you'll probably run aground. But that's sort of an exception.

So my unexpert opinion is that the Black Sea is pretty much possible to navigate throughout, and climate flux hasn't really influenced things. The problem with the Black Sea really is that it's not so much space and wherever you back off your ships, you're getting close to land somewhere else. There's not much a flotilla in the Black Sea can do, that a naval/air base in Crimea can't do cheaper and better. You can fire cruise missiles across the Black Sea so it sort of is not so bright to bring in ships to launch them. For instance, if you want to bombard Russians in Georgia (say) the simple thing for NATO is launch strikes out of Romania or Turkey, rather than hassle with warships and the straits.

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You can geographically bring out resources through Armenia and Azerbaidjan. The reason this is not done is that Azerbaidjan and Armenia have a troubled relationship, AFAIK.

True, but then you have to go through Turkey too, plus it's a steeper route for a pipeline.

Two more governments to pay off, and more costly to pump.

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BigDukeSixField,

Am told the water level in the Black Sea is down markedly from its historic shoreline, wreaking havoc on navigation as a result of drought and pumping lots of water out for industrial and municipal use.

BS. It's salty, so most uses are out, at least without investing large amount of money.

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http://blacksea.orlyonok.ru/e2.shtml

Salinity -

"The reduced salinity is the most important environmental factor influencing marine biodiversity in the Black Sea: "

Depth -

"Bottom relief of the Black Sea

Black Sea is deep; central area of its bottom is an abyssal plain at 2000m depth, covered by silt sediments, it is an accumulation area of the basin. Maximal depth of the Black Sea is 2210m"

Map_Black_Sea.jpg

Black Sea shelf is a low gradient underwater slope to 100-150m depth; the shelf narrow (1-2.5km) at the mountainous coasts of the Black Sea (Caucasus, Crimea, Anatolia). The shelf is terminated by the abrupt (up to 20-30о) basin slope to the basin apron area with depths over 1000m. An exclusion is the shallow Nor-Western part of Black Sea all belonging to the shelf zone; actually it is not a part of the Black Sea hollow.

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Affentitten,

Good catch and quite a tale of the sea! Memo to self: No matter how many hours you've been up, check dates!

Wilhammer,

I did manage to find that map (not many Black Sea hydrographic items online), but it lacks detail. Believe it was BigDukeSixField who said a destroyer couldn't enter one Black Sea port, so I figured if that wasn't doable, a Nimitz might have all kinds of no go zones.

Redwolf,

A friend of mine saw a documentary in which the water levels have receded such that navigation isn't possible now in many places where it was before, stranding vessels.

Regards,

John Kettler

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You probably can't get a Destroyer into Charles City, Va, but just down the Roads, you will find a BB, CVs, LSTs, etc, etc.

One port in a place lined with hundreds of ports is not a good judge of all the ports.

Are you sure he wasn't talking about other 'Soviet Seas', like the Caspian or that heavily poisoned and industrial/agriculturally drained one further East - Aral Sea?

aral-pic.gif

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The Caspian was alive and kicking last time I saw it (from the Iranian coast). It would take a fair bit of draining.

Who the hell wants to take a nuclear aircraft carrier close to the shore anyway? Just use an airport instead!

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