Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ruckus in the Caucusus - A Brutul Russian Self-Examination

What isn't addressed by this "Independent Military Review" article? Use of surface to surface tactical missiles like this SS-26/Iskandr.

(Photo: Arms Control Wonk)

Lessons of the Five Day War

Events in South Ossetia became a test of the soundness of Russia’s conception of national security. Judging how successfully she passed this exam is complicated for now. Although from a military point of view, the Russian Army carried out a successful operation.

Weaknesses on the Part of the Russian Army

Analysis of the performance of our forces shows that they performed well. It is true that they resolved the Roki Pass issue with difficulty. The Vladikavkaz-Tskhinvali Highway (167km) has a very limited ability to permit operations. The extended movement of Army columns through the narrow throat of the Roki tunnel to the South Ossetian capital and the necessity to successfully concentrate a significant amount of detachments from various regions of the Russian Federation created the impression of a deliberate Russian Command.

They had to commit forces to battle piecemeal and they couldn’t just change the situation on the move.

Despite all this our forces in South Ossetia nearly doubled in a day. The speed of the Russian Army reaction and the effectiveness of their strikes turned out to be unexpected by not only the Georgian leadership, but also for the West and also for some pessimistic domestic observers. In three days, in the most isolated and complicated terrain, a very powerful group of forces with support was formed, able to quickly destroy the Georgian Army group of the same size.

Most of the losses suffered in this war by our forces were suffered on the move to Tskhinvali.

Reinforcement by air was not possible because of active opposition from Georgian anti-air systems.

But the operation to bring Georgia to peace revealed more than a few deficiencies on the part of the Russian Armed Forces. One should recognize that in terms of operational and battle support and technical equipage the Army is not very ready for similar conflicts.

Upon analysis of the Russian Army’s performance, one can note the following deficiencies:

- An absence of a combined joint command (the Americans created this 20 years ago), and also an absence of information troops.

- Even in the non-fine grain mode, GLONASS wasn’t used. The Georgian Army had an autonomous targeting system. We don’t have a comparable system. The main problem is the lack of the necessary Space Forces and GLONASS receivers. Connected to this deficiency, the Army couldn’t use precision and guided munitions like the “Santimetr” (TR Note: A type of laser guided 152mm round), the “Smel’chak” (TR Note: A type of rocket assisted guided projectile) and the “Gran’” (TR Note: A type of 120mm guided mortar round).

- The untimely deployment of reconnaissance assets (SIGINT and space) which then couldn’t provide information to the country's leadership on the concentration of Georgian forces.

- Electronic warfare assets were not used to suppress the Georgian air defense network.

- Discrepancies between naval charts and army maps.

- The lack of aviation forward observers which allowed Georgian artillery and MLRS to bombard Tshinvali for 14 hours unimpeded. One reason for this is that the operations groups of the Air Force couldn’t assign two or three men to forward units without the parallel deployment of Command Posts and Reserve Command Posts, so they couldn’t really control aviation assets. Therefore, armored columns rolled without air cover. The 58th Army did not employ airborne troops or helicopter borne mining units to cut off the Georgian retreat.

Traditional Russian Army weaknesses remain, as far as can be judged, night operations, reconnaissance, communications and rear services support, although in this case, given the weakness of the enemy, these deficiencies didn’t play a substantial role during combat operations. The conflict showed that artillery retains a key role in land operations and also keenly showed the necessity to strengthen the attention paid to the issue of counter-battery.

Yesterday Afternoon

The 58th Army has a lot of obsolete tanks in its order of battle (T-62s and T-72s make up 60%-75%). Even the T-72B is equipped with first generation dynamic defense, or “reactive armor”. Even though the T-72 BM tanks were mounted with “Kontakt-5” (TR Note: Kontakt-5 is a more modern type of reactive armor), they didn’t carry the so called tandem shaped ammunition that the Georgian Army already has.

If today tanks that were built more than 30 years ago could be called modern at a stretch, then their night sights can’t stand up to criticism. They are blinded by muzzle flashes and allow target observation at only a few hundred meters. Infrared lighting increases the observation and targeting range, but they very seriously compromise the cover of the vehicle. Old tanks didn’t have GPS, didn’t have infrared detection, nor did they have IFF.

In the columns, it was the same with the BMP-1s and BMD-1s. They have a ton of armor, primitive targeting systems primitive observation instruments. For armored transport that is an unhappy picture. Until now the motorized, airborne and recon troops roll sitting on top of the armor (it’s safer like that), because the vehicles are not defended against shell fragments or from armor piercing shells, torching everyone inside. “It is parade equipment, not suited for battle,” more than one correspondent has written the Independent Military Review.

The long participation of Army detachments in counter-terror operations in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan has had a negative effect on the Army. Tactical lessons learned there turned out to be ineffective in clashes with a well equipped and armed foe like the Georgian Army. There were times when the Georgians found themselves in the “kill zone”. Russian units fired at each other because they couldn’t determine their exact positions. Soldiers in the 58th Army admitted to using American GPS, but after two days of operations in Georgia, Georgia became a GPS “white spot”. Fire adjustment had to be done with instruments made decades ago. Remote sensing (TR Note: GEOINT?) of the Earth by satellite wasn’t employed only because there weren’t enough receivers.

During combat operations, lack of cooperative organization was noted between tank and motorized detachments. At the same time there was weak coordination between artillery and tankers and between artillery and recon.

The Russian Air Force was barely employed in any organized way. This was due to political limitations; so infrastructure, transport, communications, Georgia’s industry and government organs were not subject to attack. It’s obvious that there is a severe shortage of modern precision weaponry in the Russian Air Force, most of all the X-555 satellite guided missile (TR Note: The follow on to the AS-15/Kent) as well as the frontal aviation anti-radar Kh-28 (AS-9/Kyle) and the Kh-58U (AS-11/Kilter). The main armament of our aviation remains iron bombs and unguided rockets.

There was practically a complete absence of UAVs. There is one type of medium unmanned aerial vehicles in our OOB, the “Pchela” (Bee). All of the mechanical “insects” weigh around 140kg. Their operational radius is about 60km with a flight time of about two hours. The “Pchela” was employed effectively in the first and second Chechen campaigns. Unfortunately because of a relative lack of resources, the equipment is physically worn.

Aviation lost four aircraft, confirmed by the international search and rescue satellite system COSPAS-SARSAD. Using the long-range strategic Tu-22M bomber for tactical reconnaissance was extremely irrational. It was a blunder on the part of Air Force Command.

Examining the war one must recognize that the 1998 decision of the Ministry of Defense to withdraw Army Aviation from the Infantry has turned out unsuccessful. In contrast, every American Army Corps has more than 800 helicopters (up to 350 attack helicopters) and a division has 100 to 150.

The War in the Caucusus has shown that Army Aviation regiments were directly subordinated to the unified Air Force command in vain. As a matter of fact it couldn’t allocate aviation assets or give daily assignments to squadrons in support of the motorized troops. It is doubtful that this could be accomplished given the overload of the communications system with requests for support from the infantry. It’s obvious since 58th Army Aviation didn’t participate in operational-tactical and tactical airmobile landings.

The control of aviation was also complicated because in general there are no operational forward air controllers in the air armies of the Air Force, Air Defense or in the central centralized apparatus of the Air Force. A nightmare developed after the departure of controllers from Air Defense Aviation and they became “specialists” controlling helo detachments. It’s not the fault of the personnel, coming from service in the Air Force and the Air Defense troops not knowing the specifics about the Army, that they weren’t prepared to employ and control support aircraft. This was clearly demonstrated in the course of 58th Army operations.

Pressing Measures

The Russian Armed Forces need immediate modernization. A concrete time line needs to be named (2015). Which is all well and good but the Army is fighting right now. The results of the fighting in Trans-Caucasia should prod the Russian political-military establishment into taking immediate measures.

It seems that the Russian President should decree the formation of Information Warfare Troops and its composition should include government outlets of the mass media as well as military mass media.

It also makes sense to transfer control of Army Aviation from the Air and Air Defense Forces back to the Army and re-establish command of Army Aviation in Combined Arms Armies and Corps. Simultaneously give responsibility for Army Aviation and Air Defense to the CinC Army, the command troops of the military district and the combined arms units along with the re-creation of aviation control detachments. Putting Army Aviation back with the Army allows development of plans in support of the ground troops and also allows approximately a 30 percent reduction in Air Force staffs and increases the effectiveness in the utilization of aviation in the interests of the operations and combat actions of units.

It is crucial that all ground attack aircraft and helicopters be equipped immediately with the most modern countermeasures against the most modern of MANPADS. Without this Aviation support of ground forces will be doomed to suffer losses in any operation.

UAVs in the hands of Georgian soldiers – it is an everyday policy of on-line constant surveillance of the battlefield as well as guidance of artillery and aircraft. Meanwhile Russia has decided to put off until 2012 the procurement of strike UAVs which are being jointly offered by the firms “Irkut”, “Yakolev” and “Sukhoi”. Russia is behind the most developed countries in this regard. Russia is behind the USA and Israel by an eternity and even behind India and Pakistan by a dozen years. All over the world a struggle for supremacy in the UAV arena is ongoing since there is a clear advantage for those who can execute strikes on targets deep in the enemy's rear.

It makes perfect sense to equip the Russian Army with global satellite navigation receivers. But first of all the GLONASS orbital satellite system needs to be fully deployed (currently there are 13 in orbit while 24 are needed). Only around the clock presence of four satellites above a given area provides exact coordinates. The Army also needs to be provided with portable and stationary receivers.

Besides that, other attendant problems need to be resolved, such as the development of new radar stations to detect and identify UAVs and other small flying objects and targets, since armaments and equipment currently in the Russian Army inventory can’t cope with them.

There needs to be a decision on the development of new IFF systems for weapons and combat equipment of various generations so that the Army can effectively cooperate with the Air Force and with SPETSNAZ detachments, the Navy with the Air Force and the Navy with the Army. In addition, special detachable panels need to be developed for visual recognition (colored panels) of vehicles.

With the transition to digital technology in the Russian Army, it is imperative to begin the creation of operational-tactical centers for fire organization.

Squads, platoons and companies must again be trained how to operate while surrounded. Motorized rifle and airborne companies must be introduced to the subject of “Breakout of surrounded platoons and squads” in training.

In order to support complex gunnery missions on shore targets, the problem of compatibility of maritime charts and Army topographical charts in the coastal zone must be resolved.

A Sevastopol' Port Call for "Dallas"

Kiev, 30 August (Novyy Region, Mikhail Ryabov) - The United States Coast Guard ship "Dallas" plans to make a working port visit to Sevastopol' on 01 September at 0800 at the invitation of the Ukrainian government. As opposed to the reception given the Russian training vessel "Perekop", which was refused a worthy mooring spot in the hero-city, the American Coast Guard ship will be offered the best place - a spot in the sea port.

It is remarkable that the US Coast Guard ship "Dallas", which has been in the Black Sea since 24 August, will visit Sevastopol' after completing her "humanitarian" mission in the Georgian port of Batumi. Astonished journalists observing the American activity evoked the secretness of the unloading operation of the "humanitarian" cargo, which took place at night at a specially cordoned off space, guarded by service memebers during the "humanitarian mission". The answer to questions about the cargo was straightforwardly simple - "water for wounded Georgian soldiers". Taking into account how quickly the combat readiness of the Georgian Army is being recovered, one can come to the conclusion that the Americans are not only providing water to the "unfortunate" Georgians, but also something that needs to be supplied in secret and guarded.

The choice of 01 September for inviting the "dear" guests wasn't chosen accidently. Knowing the mood of Crimeans and residents Sevastopol' with regard to NATO, they hope that residents of the city can't turn out expressing Russian glory and that they wont turn out in full strength because of "Knowledge Day", the day when parents send their kids to school and workers have to go to work.


Overview of Russian Black Sea Fleet OOB and Capabilities

Navy Day, 2006. The Black Sea Fleet striking power on display.

(TR Note: Mistakes in ship types and capabilities are the article's, not mine).

Ships Have Entered Our Sea…

30 August 2008, by Igor' Chubakha

In the near future, the North Atlantic Alliance plans to raise the number of ships in the Black Sea to 18 units. Granted, the approximately 25 units of fully combat capable Russian Black Sea Fleet units seem weaker in fire power than the NATO complement. It seems that the achievement of this notional superiority is the main goal of the American “humanitarian operation” and is official “cover” which the delivery of help to the population of Georgia supports.

And thus, right now there are 10 NATO ships in the Black Sea. They are the destroyer “McFaul”, the frigate “Taylor” and the guard ship “Dallas” (all are part of the American Navy), the frigate “General Pulaski” (Poland), the frigates “Lubeck” (FRG) and “Admiral Juan de Bourbon (Spain) and also four Turkish vessels.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, eight more ships are expected, including the Sixth Fleet flagship, the destroyer “Mount Whitney”, which poses a serious threat of introducing strategic electronic reconnaissance and command and control of various operations. The Turkish government has also been notified that the American cruiser “Cowpens” will be transiting the straits.

The destroyer “McFaul” is armed with two torpedo mounts, two 20mm guns, a 54mm anti-aircraft cannon, two 25mm cannons and four 12.5mm machine guns. There are ASROC anti-submarine missiles, Standard air-defense missiles and Tomahawk anti-ship cruise missiles which can be armed with nuclear warheads and are capable of being employed against land targets in the vertical launch tubes. Some estimates say that there are 50 Tomahawks on board “McFaul” capable of hitting targets at a range of 3000km.

The other NATO ships are armed with 64 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and around eight helicopters of various classes.

The frigate “Taylor” is armed with Harpoon missiles and Standard anti-aircraft missiles. She has two helicopters for ASW. The Coast Guard vessel “Dallas” is fulfilling the role of auxiliary vessel. Built in 1971, the destroyer “Mount Whitney” belongs to the “Blue Ridge” class of amphibious command ships and has weak defensive weaponry, since it is designed to travel with a heavy escort. The crew numbers 720 an there is a helo deck. The missile cruiser “Cowpens” is armed with the multi-function automatic anti-air system “Aegis” and also can carry Tomahawks on-board.

That such a quantity of cruise missiles is on board ships delivering humanitarian aid alarms Russia, to put it mildly. The deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel-General Anatoliy Nogovitsyn, commenting on this fact announced: “We take this into account and make conclusions.”

During this press conference he reminded the gathering of the similarity to the run up to operations in Iraq in 1991. “The Americans have experience chartering civilian ships during Desert Storm to carry military cargos to build up their forces,” Nogovitstyn recalled.

At the same time last Wednesday in the port of Sukhumi, two small missile boats and the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, the missile cruiser “Moskva” made the first official visit in the framework of Russia’s recognition of an independent Abkhazia. The Russian Black Sea fleet, besides auxiliaries, consists of the following units:

- The 30th Division of Surface Ships, including the 11th Brigade of ASW shps (Guards missile cruiser (RKR) “Moskva”, the large anti-submarine ships (BPK) “Kerch’” and “Ochakov”, the guard ships (SKR) “Smetlivyy”, “Ladnyy”, and "Pitlivyy" ).
-The 197th Brigade of landing ships (the large landing ships (BDK) “Nikolay Fil’chenkov”, “Orsk”, “Saratov”, “Azov”, “Novocherkassk”, “Tsezar’ Kunikov”, “Yamal’” ).
- The 247th Independent Division of Submarines consisting of the diesel submarines (PL) “Alrosa” and “B-380” (which is in overhaul at the moment).
- The 68th Waterspace Guard Brigade, including the 400th Anti-Submarine Warfare Division (small anti-submarine ships (MPK) “Aleksandrovets”, “Vladimirets”, “Muromets” and “Suzdalets” ) and the 418th Minsweeper Division (four ships).
- The 41st Brigade of Missile Boats including the 66th Novorossiyskiy Division of small missile ships (MRK) – surface effects missile ships “Bora” and “Samum” and also the MRKs “Shtil’” and “Mirazh”, and the 295th Sulinskiy Division of missile boats (six units).
-The 184th Waterspace Guard Brigade (Novorossiysk) including the 181st ASW Division (MPKs “Povorino”, “Yejsk” and “Kasimov” and the 170th Minesweeper Division – six units.

It is worth noting that a significant portion of the Russian ships of the Black Sea Fleet are in pitiful condition. Therefore the numbers vary when evaluating the combat readiness of Black Sea Fleet forces. According to the head of the Navy League in Saint Petersburg, Admiral Nikolay Orlov, today the Black Sea Fleet is “a small detachment which covers the southern border and no more. Twenty five ships, what’s that, a task group? That’s not enough to support the South”. Orlov is sure.

On the other hand, part of the military mission of the Russian ships based in Sevastopol’ and Novorossiysk can be done without leaving the pier. But that turns them into convenient static targets.

(Tr Note: Article outlines combat capabilities of certain Black Sea Fleet units, which can be found here.)

No one wants to fantasize about what would happen if NATO and the Russian Black Sea Fleet entered into a military clash and opened fire.

As the former commander of the Black Sea Fleet and Chief of Staff of the Navy Admiral Igor’ Kasatonov said, “If we take into account only ships with regard to the combat potential of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and NATOs planned buildup – NATO has the advantage. But, if it’s necessary, Russia will use all of her armed forces, including aviation.”

Friday, August 29, 2008

First Look: 29 August

Retired Admiral Kasatonov - There wont be a Third World War in the Black Sea

There won't be an armed clash between the Black Sea Fleet and NATO ships in the Black Sea, says the former commander of the Black Sea Fleet Admiral Igor' Kasatonov.

"There wont be a Third World War here. This is our house. It is our zone of influence. They are uninterested in it. It is not Iran, nor is it Afghanistan. They will leave as quick as they've come", the Admiral declared to RIA Novosti on Thursday.

A video report on Pacific Fleet exercises involving 15 ships and submarines with live fire against ground, sea and air targets. The highlight of the video is an absolutely stunning shot of a coastal defense missile battery at the mouth of what appears to be Avachinskaya Bay, Kamchatka, firing at a notional target at sea. Not to be missed.

Scuttlebutt: Was a Civilian Ship Almost Smoked During the Battle of the Black Sea? Probably not, but...

From Livejournal user U-96:

While representatives of the Russian Black Sea Fleet maintain silence about the subject of at exactly what target the MRK "Mirazh" shot a "Malakhit" anti-ship missile (SS-N-9/Siren), this info has surfaced in RuNet:

On 09 August 2008, 30 miles North-West of the Georgian port of Poti, 25 miles from the shore the Moldovan cargo ship "Lotos-1" carrying 1475 tons of wheat from Yejsk to Poti came under missile fire.

Fragments of the second, having exploded 50 to 100 meters off the port side at an altitude of approximately 20 to 30 meters inflicted insignificant damage to the superstructure. All members of the crew survived. The ship did not lose way and exited the combat zone, thankfully making it to Kerch'

Caption: One of the fragments which fell on the deck, which everyone seems to think is the wing of a missile.

Up to now the victim of the "Mirazh" has changed from RKA "Dioskuriya" to "Tblilisi" and finally settled on the guard vessel "Georgiy Toreli". The first two were proven to be destroyed in Poti and it's been deduced that the third was the victim of an anti-ship missile attack.

Since this information has surfaced in the forums that allegedly the "Toreli" has turned up in one piece and remains in Batumi. This has prompted the following commentary from Exeter:

In general, I fear that the real target was the unfortunate Moldovan merchant ship. (...) So, roughly, we will see.

So, we have in Batumi, it seems:

From the Navy - "Guriya", "Atiya" and seemingly both landing ships.

From the Coast Guard - it seems the "Georgiy Toreli, "Sukhumi", "General Mazniashvili", "Kodori", R-102, R-103, R-104, R-105, R-106, R-0111, R-0115, R-0116.

In Poti, it is more or less confirmed that the following were sunk:

From the Navy - "Dioskuriya", "Tbilisi", "Tskhaltubo" and some indications that "Kutaisi" was also sunk.

From the Coast Guard - "Ayeti", "Tsotne Dadiani" (it seems that it is her hulk on the bow of the "Ayeti"), R-204 and R-205?

Not counting the small boys like the "Aistov", the fate of 10 units is unclear: "Akmeta", "Iveriya", "Mestiya", "Gantiadi", "Gali", R-203, R-206, R-207, R-208, R-209.

I have a question, by the way, were these antiquities like "Akmeta", "Gantiadi" and "Gali" in the OOB at the beginning of the war?

Now I won't flog a dead horse about where "10 units" went and all that, or where that first Malakhit went. A more interesting intrigue surrounds the second Malakhit and the Moldovan ship.

And so, for starters, what's up with the rust bucket?

The Lotos-1 is a STK class river cargo ship:

The Project 326 - the ship is equipped with two covered cargo holds and a container deck.

So supposedly this "river boat", laden to the hold covers with wheat was hit the night of the 9th of August by one of the Mirazh's missiles, that is almost hit. The missile for some reason (was there a self-destruct command?) exploded 50 to 100 meters from the cargo ship, showering her with fragments.

Purely theoretically one could imagine that the MRK took the slow moving, but clearly defined on the radar screen 82 meter long Moldovan for a Georgian boat in the nighttime murk. Generally a lot like that can happen in battle...

Some sort of guidance error could have occurred, when the homing seeker "skipped" the small boat and targeted the clearly defined, large carcass of the dry-cargo vessel. This was caught on the MRK in time and they gave to command to destruct (shit, I can't remember, if the P-120 has a comms link with the ship after launch?)...

All of this is theoretical. It's more likely that the above photo of the "missile fragment" could allegedly even remind one of the part of a Malakhit wing. Like this...

So to throw a monkey wrench in the works, one thing shakes these theories to the root.

The warhead of a Malakhit is packed with 840kg of explosives, packed into a nine meter long missile and travels at almost the speed of sound.

I imagine the explosion of a P-120 at a range of 100 meters from a dry-cargo vessel and...And I don't understand how that could just wet the underwear of the crew. Just the shockwave from a 100 meters and the fragments should have turned the port side of the Moldovan into a colander!

In short, mysteries continue to remain mysteries.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Where is C6F? The World Wonders...

TV "Zvezda"'s answer to Morgan Spurlock goes looking for the Mount Whitney (LCC-20) and "nine other ships that were with her at the roadstead" in Gaeta, Italy and finds nothing. The local purveyor of spirits/seamstress informs the viewers that the Mount Whitney is a ship and it is not suprising that she doesn't always stay in port. She then says that the Mount Whitney is on her way to Georgia, adding that the reporter must have seen that on TV. The reporter concludes that there is ample evidence to suggest that the Mount Whitney is on her way to the Black Sea.

You keep looking TV "Zvezda"! I'm sure the Mount Whitney is bound to turn up soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Russian Grammar Note

It is like the entire Russian blogosphere got the same memo simultaneously. Since the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent republics, the RuNet has now renamed "Tskhivali" and "Sukhumi" "Tskhinval" and "Sukhum" respectively. And while in the past, these place names were indeclinable (that is, their forms did not change according to their function in the sentence), now they are declinable according to standard Russian grammar rules.

As far as I can tell, "Poti" remains Poti and not "Pot" and "Tbilisi" remains Tbilisi and not "Tbilis" or even "Tiflis". I suppose we'll know that Russia has "liberated" the rest of Georgia when those changes are made in RuNet...

I'm no lawyer, but...The 1936 Montreux Convention

Is General Nogovitsyn justified when he raises issues regarding NATO and the 1936 Montreux Convention?

No, not yet.

First some terminology. Part of the problem with the 1936 Convention is that it was written for a different time with different naval technology in mind. Annex Two Section B of the convention contains definitions of ship types, to wit:


(1) Capital ships are surface vessels of war belonging to one of the two following sub-categories:

(a) Surface vessels of war, other than aircraft-carriers, auxilliary vessels, or capital ships of sub-category (b) the standard displacement of which exceeds 10.000 tons (10.160 metric tons) or which carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 8 in. (203 mm.);

(b) Surface vessels of war, other than aircraft-carriers, the standard displacement of which does not exceed 8.000 tons (8.128 metric tons) and which carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 8 in. (203 mm.).

(2) Aircraft-Carriers are surface vessels of war, whatever their displacement, designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of carrying and opeI The wording of the present Annex is taken from the London Naval Treaty of March 25th, 1936. rating aircraft at sea. The fitting of a landing-on or flying-off deck on any vessel of war, provided such vessel has not been designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of carrying and operating aircraft at sea, shall not cause any vessel to fitted to be classified in the category of aircraft-carrier.

The category of aircraft-carrier is divided into two sub-categories as follows:

(a) Vessels fitted with a flight deck, from which aircraft can take off, or on which aircraft can land from the air;

(b) Vessels not fitted with a flight deck as described in (a) above.

(3) Light Surface Vessels are surface vessels of war other than aircraft-carriers, minor war vessels of auxiliary vessels,~the standard displacement of which exceeds 100 ton (102 metric tons) and does not exceed 10.000 tons (10.160 metric tons), and which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 8 in. (103 mm.).

The category of light surface vessels is divided into three subcategories as follows:

(a) Vessels which carry a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in. (155 mm.);

(b) Vessels which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding
6.1 in. (155 mm.) and the standard displacement of which exceeds
3.000 tons (3.048 metric tons);

(c) Vessels which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding
6.1 in. (155 mm.) and the standard displacement of which does not exceed 3.000 (3.048 metric tons).

(4) Submarines are all vessels designed to operate below the surface of the sea.

(5) Minor War Vessels are surface vessels of war, other than auxiliary vessels, the standard displacement of which exceeds 100 tons (102 metric tons) and does not exceed 2.000 tons (2.032 metric tons), provided they have none of the following characteristics:

(a) Mount a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in (155 mm.);

(b) Are designed or fitted to launch torpedoes;

(c) Are designed for a speed greater than twenty knots.

(6) Auxiliary Vessels are naval surface vessels the standard displacement of which exceeds 100 tons (102 metric tons), which are normally employed on fleet duties or as troop transports, or in some other way than as fighting ships, and which are not specifically built as fighting ships, provided they have none of the following characteristics:

(a) Mount a gun with a calibre exceeding 6.1 in (155 mm.);

(b) Mount more than eight guns with a calibre exceeding 3 in (76 mm.);

(c) Are designed or fitted to launch torpedoes;

(d) Are designed for protection by armour plate:

(e) Are designed for a speed greater than twenty-eight knots;

(f) Are designed or adapted primarily for operating aircraft at sea;

(g) Mount more than two aircraft-lauching apparatus.

In this context, lets examine what is obviously by far the most powerful vessel in the Black Sea, the USS McFaul (DDG-74).

She does not carry a gun exceeding 8 inches, so by this definition she is not a capital ship. She has "not been designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of carrying and operating aircraft at sea" so she is not an aircraft carrier. She is not a submarine. She is not a minor vessel of war, displacing more than 2000 tons as she does. By several definitions she is not an auxilliary vessel. That leaves the category of "light surface vessel". McFaul does not exceed 10,000 tons displacement or have a gun greater than 8 inches. In fact, McFaul fits into the category found in Paragraph 3(b) "Vessels which do not carry a gun with a calibre exceeding
6.1 in. (155 mm.) and the standard displacement of which exceeds
3.000 tons (3.048 metric tons)".

So, by the definition found in the Montreux Convention, McFaul is a "light surface vessel". What are the rules concerning transit of the straits by a "light surface vessel"?

Section II Article 13 states:

The transit of vessels of war through the Straits shall be preceded by a notification given to the Turkish Government through the diplomatic channel. Ihe normal p*iod of notice shall be eight days, but it is desirable that in the case at non-Black Sea Powers this period should be increased to fifteen days. The notification shall specify the destination, name, type and number of the vessels, as also the date of entry for the outward passage and, if necessary, for the return journey. Any change of date shall be subject to three days' notice.

Entry into the Straits for the outward passage shall take place within a period of five days form the date given in the original notification. After the expiry of this period, a new notification shall be given under the same conditions as for the original notification.

When effecting transit, the commander of the naval force shall without being under any obligation to stop, communicate to a signal station at the entrance to the Dardanelles or the Bosphorus the exact composition of the force under his orders.

So far so good. Nothing complicated there.

The provisions of Article 14 are a little trickier:

The maximum aggregate tonnage of all foreign naval forces which may be in course of transit through the Straits shall not exceed 15.000 tons, except in the cases provided for in Article 11 and in Annex Ill to the present Convention.

The forces specified in the preceding paragraph shall not, however, comprise more than nine vessels.

Vessels, whether belonging to Black Sea or non-Black Sea Powers, paying visits to a port in the Straits, in accordance with the provisions of Article 17, shall not be included in this tonnage.

Neither shall vessels of war which have suffered damage during their passage through the Straits be included in this tonnage; such vessels, while undergoing repair, shall be subject to any special provisions relating to security laid down by Turkey.

Article 11 concerns Black Sea powers and thus applies to Turkey herself and not the rest of the NATO vessels in the Black Sea. Tonnage rules shouldn't apply right now because NATO vessels are not physically passing through the Straits. They are already in the Black Sea. The total NATO force consisting of non-Black Sea power forces did not in anycase exceed nine vessels. Also, I am unclear as to whether the definition of a "power" is an individual state or members of an alliance, although I suspect a "power" is an individual state.

Finally, Article 18 enumerates how much tonnage non-Black Sea powers are allowed in the Black Sea at any one time:

(1) The aggregate tonnage which non-Black Sea Powers may have in that sea in time of peace shall be limited as follows:

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) below, the aggregate tonnage of the said Powers shall not exceed 30.000 tons;

(b) If at any time the tonnage ot the strongest fleet in the Black Sea shall exceed by at least 10.000 tons the tonnage of the strongest fleet in that sea at the date of the signature of the present Convention, the aggregate tonnage of 30.000 tons mentioned in paragrahp (a) shall be increased by the same amount, up to a maximum of 45,000 tons. For this purpose, each Black Sea Power shall, in conformity with Annex IV to the present Convention, inform the Turkish Govrnment, on the 1 st January and the 1st July of each year, of the total tonnage of its fleet in the Black Sea; and the Turkish Government shall transmit this information to the other High Contracting Parties and to the Secretary-General of the League of Nations;

(c) The tonnage which any one non-Black Sea Power may have in the Black Sea shall be limited to two-thirds of the aggregate tonnage provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b) above;

(d) In the event, however, of one or more non-Black Sea Powers desiring to send naval forces into the Black Sea, for a humanitarian purpose, the said forces, which shall in no case exceed 8.000 tons altogether, shall be allowed to enter the Black Sea without having to give the notification provided for in Article 13 of the present Convention, provided an authorisation is obtained from the Turkish Government in the following circumstances: if the figure of the aggregate tonnage specified in paragraphs (a) and (b) above has not been reaached and will not be exceeded by the despatch of the forces which it is desired to send, the Turkish Government shall grant the said authorisation within the shortest possible time after receiving the request which has been addressed to it; if the said figure has already been reached or if the despatch of the forces which it is desired to send will cause it to be exceeded, the Turkish Go',ernment will immediately inform the other Black Sea Powers of the request for authorisation, and if the said Powers make no objection within twenty-four hours of having received this information, the Turkish Government shall, within forty-eight hours at the latest, inform the interested Powers of the reply which it has decided to make to their request.

Any further entry into the Black Sea of naval forces of non-Black Sea Powers shall only be effected within the available limits of the aggregate tonnage provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b) above.

(2) Vessels of war belonging to non-Black Sea Powers shall not remain in the Black Sea more than twenty-one days, whatever be the object of their presence there.

It is not clear to me if the humanitarian paragraph of the Montreux Convention has been invoked. Altogether, non-Black Sea powers can have no more than 45,000 tons of vessels in the Black Sea. Full displacement of the McFaul is appx. 9,000 tons, USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20) is appx. 18,000 tons, the USS Taylor (FFG-50) is 4,100 tons and the USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) is appx. 3,250 tons. This would appear to break the provision contained in paragraph (c) above, limiting the aggregate tonnage of warships of any one power to 2/3rds of 45,000 tons, or 30,000 tons.

However, according to Article 9:

Naval auxiliary vessels specifically designed for the carriage of fuel, liquid or nonliquid, shall not be subject to the provisions of Article 13 regarding notification, nor shall they be counted for the purpose of calculating the tonnage which is subject to limitation under Articles 14 and 18, on condition that they shall pass through the Straits singly. They shall, however, continue to be on the same footing as vessels of war for the purpose of the remaining provisions governing transit.

And by the rules found in Annex II, Section B, Paragraph 6, the Mount Whitney is obviously an auxilliary, exempt from the tonnage rules, as are the hospital ships that the United States are contemplating sending to the Black Sea. Additionally, the Mount Whitney is by Annex II definitions NOT a "vessel of war" and thus exempt to Article 18, Paragraph 2 restrictions on length of stay in the Black Sea. So American forces are well below tonnage limits for non-Black Sea forces.

In fact, by my sea-lawyerly estimation, the only thing Nogovitsyn will have any standing to complain about is if any one of the American forces in the Black Sea overstays its 21 day welcome found in the last paragraph of Article 18, and we aren't quite at that point yet.


Latest on the Naval Situation in the Black Sea

As one Russian blogger puts it - "The Pampers have been delivered"

The announcers question why humanitarian aid has to be delivered by warship. The announcers also become experts in international law by trying somewhat unsuccessfully to explain the provisions of the Montreux Convention. The announcers explain how the Coast Guard vessel has docked in Batumi, Georgia, and how no one really knows what else they are delivering to Georgia. The reporter notes that the Sixth Fleet Command Ship "Mount Whitney" will also dock in Batumi tommorrow (28 Aug) with an unidentified cargo. The reporter notes that the Arleigh Burke class destroyer "McFaul" is in the Black Sea with "a very different cargo". A chart helpfully reminds the viewer that the McFaul is armed with anti-aircraft missiles that have a range of 250km and the latest version of the Tomahawk cruise missile with a range of 2800km. The map makes it clear how far into Russia 2800km is. General Nogovitsyn then reminds people of the provisions of the 1936 Montreux Convention.

Meanwhile the Russians are making Georgian port calls themselves. In the Republic of Abkhazia, recognized only by Russia as an independent country, the Moskva and two small missile boats make a port call in Sukhumi. The commander of the Russian navy base at Novorossiysk Admiral Sergey Menyaylo, on hand to meet the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, helpfully explains that the mission of the task force is a peacekeeping mission. The "President" of Abkhazia makes a visit to the Moskva at the Sukhumi roadstead. The reporter notes that this is the first time that the flag of an "independent Abkhazia" has been raised on a warship, underscoring Russia's recognition of Abkhzia as an independent country.

Update to Georgian Navy Order of Battle

For those of you keeping track at home, as of 26 August:

Missile Boat "Dioskuriya" - Sunk at the pier.

Missile boat "Tbilisi" - Sunk at the pier.

According to, Russian forces mounted on seven armored vehicles blew up the Ayeti, Zhuk (Grif) class patrol boat R-205, the patrol boat R-204 and the patrol boat R-01.

There are unconfirmed reports that the patrol boats "Kutaisi" and "Tsxaltubo" were also destroyed at the pier in Poti.

Additionally, the Stenka-class escort vessel "R-21 Georgiy Toreli" is thought to be the ship sunk by the MRK "Mirazh" with an SS-N-9 during a night battle in the eastern Black Sea.

Update your order of battles at home!