Soviet and Russian Seafaring women

Since it is the 8th March and I've been meaning to write about women seafarers.  Let’s hear it for the Russian seafaring ladies - Past and present

In Soviet times, two seafaring women become famous in the West during the 40's:

Anna Shchetinina (1908-1999) - first merchant navy certified captain in 1935. (Link in Russian

2. Valentina Orlikova 1915-1991) - she was the first woman in the world to became a large trawler and whaler captain, in Antarctic waters.

You could be mistaken that they were trend-setters in era when seafaring women in the West were mostly serving on passenger liners, as nurses, nannies or in the catering & hotel departments. Yet, both these ladies and thousands of others served at sea before and during World War II, as navigators, engineers and radio operators. 

Captain Anna Shchetinina initially trained at the Navigation Department of Vladivostok Maritime College. After earning her captain’s 4 rings, she got her first command in 1935, the steamship “Chavycha”, sailing from Hamburg to Kamchatka. She also served as a fisheries port manager before the war, then during the war,  Anna Shchetinina was a master of a Liberty ship in the Baltic, once getting hit by mine, while evacuating wounded. In 1951, Captain Shchetinina was appointed a dean of the Navigation Department in Leningrad Higher Marine Engineering College and later as assistant Professor in Vladivostok.

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Ночные TCG «Burgazada» (F-513) и TCG «Akçay» (M 270) во время визита в Новороссийск

Противолодочный корвет TCG «Burgazada» (F-513) ВМС Турции и Артиллерийский крейсер "Михаил Кутузов" в ночной бухте Новороссийска

Вчера в рамках проходящего национального учения ВМС Турции «Голубая Отчизна-2019» противолодочный корвет TCG «Burgazada» (F-513) и минный тральщик TCG «Akçay» (M 270) зашли с деловым визитом в Новороссийск.

По сообщениям есть возможность днем посетить корабли, но проверить это у меня вряд ли получится. В Новороссийске гости пробудут до 8 марта.
Ну, а пока посмотрим ночные фото оных.

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UPD. Продолжение: Вечерние TCG «Burgazada» (F-513) и TCG «Akçay» (M 270) во время визита в Новороссийск

The tale of maritime aid to Venezuela

Taking a quick look around the maritime context of what is going on in Venezuela:

  1. Military operations 

  2. Humanitarian aid

The first to note is the long-standing US military presence in the Caribbean, under the framework of fighting the drugs trade, (US Navy and USCG mainly with supporting air assets). This is under the remit of SOUTHCOM who “ready for anything in Venezuela”

I am not going to dwell too much on this US military aspect, other to say that any possible US naval force would be spearheaded by the USS Abraham Lincoln, (CVN 72) currently off the US east coast along with numerous destroyers in the Atlantic Ocean.  It has been there training on and off (COMPTUEX and JTFEX) for several weeks now, prior to scheduled deployment to the Mediterranean and Gulf regions.

More details on military aspects in forthcoming article.

US military are regular visitors to the regions but have become understandably more noticeable of late to digital plane spotters, these include cargo, helicopters, but of particular interest are the USAF RC 135 off the Venezuelan coast and USN P-8s operations in the region.

I want to highlight this tweet, because it fits into something intriguing.  As reported by BBC Mundo, US humanitarian aid has also been despatched by sea.  The location of the USAF RC-135 is active in an area, at a time when the US-backed ex-Offshore Supply Ship (OSV), now regional RO-RO cargo ship was heading trying to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

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Norwegian Navy frigate ‘Helge Ingstad’ sinking - updated

Part 1 - Update
13 Nov

LATEST: The frigate "Helge Ingstad" has sunk.

Some of the wire mooring apparently broke overnight, resulting in the frigate ‘slipping’ further under the sea. Video (Norwegian Coastguard).

Any salvage operation is likely to be aesthetic in nature rather than sn trying to raise the wreck for parts.

Seawater damage will take its toll on machinery and equipment, especially the AEGIS radar system.
Likewise for the aviation fuel damage to ship and environment.

All of this because of an OOW bridge watchkeeper onboard lost total situational awareness (speed is a factor imho) in a head-on encounter with an Aframax tanker. The 3-way radio conversations is telling: listen here (with English subtitles).

Re the radio conversation: a short extract is presented here:

Sola TS calls the frigate to get ID
T: Is that you coming?
F:Yes that’s correct
T: Turn starboard immediately
F: Then we will too close to the obstacles.
T: Turn starboard if that’s you coming you have... (on tanker bridge in background another voice is heard in English: NOW!)

The bit underlined here is of interest, as it gives a hint of the navigational context. So here are electronic charts extracts of the area, to see the depth of the water and the obstacles.

The oil terminal is at the bottom, with some of the danger obstacles (note depth marked) highlighted in grey. ( The depth indicated is to the chart datum - the lowest depth [lowest astronomical tide]. Hence ordinarily there would be more clearance (under the keel). To note that the frigate had a draft of
7.6 m.

09 Nov

Source: Aftenposten

Someone has got some explaining to do. Here is the radar and radio log From VTS up to the collision and afterwards:" </div>">https://

Although the Helge Ingstad was not on AIS, the frigate is clearly seen on radar going southbound at approximately 17 knots.

The ‘Sola TS’ tanker is heard to ask what was the vessel that was approaching at 17 kts, VTS answers saying it could be ‘Helge Ingstad’. Sola TS then got onthe radio to get confirmation. The ‘Sola TS’ then hailed the frigate asking for 1. Course change starboard turn) then
2. a port-to-port passage. The frigate turned this down saying it was close to shore.

The ‘Sola TS’ stated over the radio that a collision is going to happen, telling the frigate to turn starboard. Short afterwards Sola TS confirmed that it had collided. Listening to the radio
communications, there seemed to be some uncertainty on the frigate bridge.

The lines projecting from the red marks show the headings.

From a mariner’s perspective, the golden rule is pass port to port. Clearly this wasn’t going to happen with the Helge Ingstad. But the Sola TS was big, the size of an aircraft carrier, and it is not as manoeuvrable as a CODAG powered frigate.

I can’t grasp the conversation, except for starboard being mentioned and VTS asking how many people were onboard on both vessels after the collision. VTS is speaking to the oil terminal pilot in this situation. Hence the slight delay in replying. Another point to make re pilots and foreign crews re bridge communications. The seconds add up.

In this situation, COLREGS apply, so I’m guessing that the frigate thought that the tanker would move out of the way. But the recording suggest (to me) some more inadequate radio procedure on the part of the frigate, to simply ask the tanker’s course intentions! Then take action to slow down and alter course in good time.

href=""> According to the Daily Mail, </a>Vessel Traffic Service (VTS who are tasked with monitoring and advising ships in their zone) called the frigate on VHF to warn them them that they were on a collision course with the tanker, Sola TS, who also apparently alerted the frigate.

The radio alerts were reported to be from from the Coastal Maritime Traffic Center Fedje VTS.

MIGHT is RIGHT. (As I outline further down in this article). This is also surmised by this thread.

This is beginning to have echoes of what happened to the USS Fitzgerald and the USS J McCain last summer.


Operations have started to secure the frigate to the land with attachment points welded to the hull with wires ashore. Once the frigate is secured, holes will be sealed. Afterwards the vessel will be sent to a naval base (on heavylift ship?)for repairs.

It does look like the frigate has gone further under the water though since yesterday. Details and latest photos (10 Nov update)

Part 2

Not looking good for #NorwayNavy frigate ‘Helge Ingstad’ (F313) which was sinking rapidly for a while (live on TV no less). Now seems to be grounded and with a potentially difficult salvage operation to get the frigate off safely (eventually).

Reports came in this morning on a collision between the frigate and an oil tanker in Western Norwegian waters not far from Bergen, close to Øygarden. The frigate was subsequently ran aground.

Video footage from Coastguard helicopter of grounded frigate. How long will the structure / keel hold in place?

Timeline of event: Sola TS AIS and Tenax tug.
The frigate ‘Helge Ingstad‘ did not activate AIS until after the collision. To note AIS is no substitute for COLREG application and prudent seamanship in any situation.

Just as well as Sola TS was only doing 5.7 -6 knots at time. The damage to the tanker was slight, with loss of anchor it seems judging by this photo.

Update: Norwegian navy reported in press conference that loss of propulsion and control was the result of the collision.

Yikes. Timing. At night, no AIS active on frigate, close proximity of major oil terminal, with lumbering laden tanker coming up from behind in narrow space. Not good at all.

A Aframax tanker:
Sola TS displaces more than a US Aircraft Carrier.”

Think about that for a minute.

AIS tracks

AIS show location and ships involved in the SAR ops. It also shows the Maltese-registered Aframax tanker involved, MV ‘Sola TS’ The ‘Helge Ingstad’ (F313) didn’t have AIS activated at time, judging by the straight line that goes over land. AIS was only after the collision. (Ermmmmm)...

The Tsakos tanker however did have AIS active all of the time, you can actually see the point where the incident happened.

The ‘Sola TS’ had a tug escort, the ‘Tenax’. Check out the AIS track:

So the Sola TS was more than likely to be under restricted ability to manoeuvre, with the appropriate lights on the mast to show (??!!!!!).

The rescue

Photos and video taken by the Norwegian SAR boats on scene show an orderly evacuation, with crew in their immersion suits and liferafts launched alongside the frigate down by the stern. One can only imagine if there were damage control teams trying valiantly to save their ship.

Frigate being deliberately grounded:

Photos of frigate aground with extensive damage (gash ripped out) to starboard quarter.⚠️

The consolation is no fatalities occurred but 8 injuries reported.

Live direct:

Shut-down of oil & gas infrastructure

The whole incident has taken on a greater dimension with shut-down of oil & gas ops: Expensively so.

Due to the location of the grounding, the nearby oil terminal operations were stopped at the Sture terminal.

Other oil and gas operations were also shut down in the area as a direct consequence of the frigate’s grounding. This includes oilfields apparently, back upstream from the terminal.

This is getting eye-wateringly expensive.

NATO exercise

This is rather unfortunate: last press release of Norwegian MoD as it took part in the recent massive NATO exercise Trident Juncture.


COLREG rules applied wrongly (??)Certainly too early to meaningfully speculate at any length this stage. BUT...

This is intriguing, what exactly was HNoMS ‘Helge Ingstad’ (no AIS) doing when a collision took place with the Sola TS oil tanker? The tanker had loaded & just departed the Sture terminal in Øygarden, and had a tug escort ‘Tenax’( standard procedure for oil terminal (un)docking. Presumably, this was announced on marine radio too.
(You can actually see the terminal behind the sinking frigate!!!!!).

None of the 625,000 barrels of crude oil onboard on the Sola TS has spilled. But there is evident oil spill (apparently 10000 litres of helicopter fuel) judging by this video still:

Talking about “sound navigational practice” (quoting US Navy accident report).

Getting hit starboard side not auspicious start. A naval bridge has far more people on duty than a commercial tanker, (which if fully loaded) would have been ‘restricted in ability to manoeuvre’ especially in a channel. Certainly so compared to a 5,290 ton CODAG (diesel & gas turbined) frigate. The only case I can think of is if the frigate was under RAM or NUC (Not under Command) too or at anchor.

Just the simple fact of anchoring off or even exercising in the close vicinity of an oil terminal would in my book a rather dim thing to do (for any mariner).

Big ships will not stop so quickly if the ‘Helge Ingstad‘ had power failure and was close ahead. You can actually see on AIS how long it took to slow down.

Big ships do not turn or stop very well, especially laden and especially with a tug attached. That’s a 3 ship accident.
Low speed of tanker ( AIS show between 5 and 7kts just after collision) means the lower speed they travel, the less manoeuvrable they are due to the effects of propeller wash against the rudder.

What is plenty of underwater hull clearance for a frigate isn’t the same as for an Aframax tanker, where it was roughly twice that of the ‘Helge Ingstad‘. All of us little ship mariners have installed: big is mighty and give them a wide berth (especially with tug escorts attached to them!).

Everyone has radar, ECDIS and merchant ships like AIS. Awareness of big commercial operations off oil terminal usually dictates prudence, give wide berth and let the big ship pass. Wariness of movement and intentions is paramount.

There is some dumb stuff on social media putting foward Russian GPS jamming. Either they are totally misinformed or are being misleading in a crass way. This Twitter thread is useful to note:

“ GPS Jamming did not cause the collision of the #helgeingstad. Even if GPS was jammed, the Russians can't jam your eyeballs. Cyber is also highly unlikely, as all those steering systems will have a manual backup.“

Well 2 accident investigations have been opened, one civil and the other military. Plus the Maltese authorities for the ‘Sola TS’.

Новороссийский морской порт - самый большой порт России (НМТП)

Новороссийский морской порт — самый крупный в России и пятый в Европе порт по грузообороту. ОАО «НМТП» обрабатывает около 20% от общего объема грузов, экспортируемых и импортируемых через морские порты России. Порт расположен на его северо-восточном побережье в незамерзающей Новороссийской (Цемесской) бухте на Черном море.

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На Новороссийском районе...

Патрульные корабли (корветы) проекта 22160 «Дмитрий Рогачёв» и «Василий Быков» у причалов НВМБ, компанию им составляет
малый ракетный корабль проекта 21631 («Буян-М») «Орехово-Зуево»

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24 года Новороссийскому военно-морскому району (НВМР)

После развала СССР основные военно-морские силы России в Азово-Черноморском бассейне оказались на территории двух "независимых" государств Украины и Грузии. 8 сентября 1994 года постановлением Правительства Российской Федерации № 1011-47 «О формировании Новороссийского военно-морского района (НВМР) и создании системы базирования сил Военно-Морского Флота на территории Краснодарского края» восстанавливается военно-морской статус Новороссийска. А в 1997 году после раздела Черноморского флота, Новороссийский военно-морской район был преобразован в Новороссийскую военно-морскую базу ЧФ (через 50 лет после ее последнего расформирования).

Случайно оказался в районе Морвокзала и увидел у 34-го причала принарядившийся тральщик. Оказалось как раз по случаю очередной годовщины НВМР.

Морской тральщик проекта 02668 (шифр "Аквамарин") «Виице-адмирал Захарьин» (бортовой 908)

Был заложен на Средне-Невском ССЗ под Санкт-Петербургом в 1994 году. Первоначально строился по проекту 266МЭ для ВМС Вьетнама, но в 2000 году была начата переделка по новому проекту 02668. Спущен на воду в мае 2006 году, а в 2008 году внутренними водными путями совершил переход в Новороссийск для государственных испытаний. В январе 2009 года зачислен в состав Черноморского флота России.

Завтра корабль уже уйдет в Керчь, а пока, раз выпала такая возможность, посмотрим, что там и как.

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Updated 24 Sept: Syria - Post September 17th events

Updates will be provided as needed in either the revelant section or as a new sub-heading.

24 September

Another Russian MoD video briefing very revealing with additional data from them.

3 Israeli F-16 jets grouped (yellow), another one (yellow/red) the Syrian S-200 air defense missile (red), and the Russian Il-20 plane (green)

Data from another fire control system at the Russian base Hmeymim.

Why did the one F-16 deliberate move away from the group and be that close to the Il-20? The other are much further away.

Ministry of Defense of Russia has #Syria #КрушениеИл20 #Russia #israel

The SF Defense Committee proposed to create a no-fly zone in the Syrian Latakia

Russian MoD minister confirms delivery of S-300 to Syria

23 September 2018

Just a reminder what the IDF said about Israeli F-16s

“2. When the Syrian Army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane, IAF jets were already within Israeli airspace.”

What today’s Russian MoD briefing showed images from the ‘Plotto’ Air system that the Israelis’ were still in the air off Syria at the time.

Israeli version unpicked and seemingly out of fantasy land then?

The data on the Plotto relating to civilian traffic (in green on Jordan/ Iraq border region) matches the info on Flight apps.

The view from Israel

Downing of Russian Jet: Israel Fears Putin Will Clip Its Wings in Syria-

Asked whether shooting down the Russian aircraft would affect the Israeli air force’s freedom of action over Syria, Defense Minister Lieberman performed more evasion maneuvers than the Russian Ilyushin pilots did Monday night.”

Saturday read:
1️⃣From de-escalation to almost World War Three in just 2 hours

2️⃣Putin, Israel and the downed Il-20

Dedicated to FortRuss’s inspired pile of glass ball gazing article on NATO & US Navy in the Med recently published - you’re shit and off the mark - I’m referring to the article on “NATO Warships Amassed by Syria just before Attack on Lattakia“(See part B on HMS Talent for example, that’s just one example!!).

Section A

22 September

Re the Saker’s article (see above link) - this point stands out:

By “warning” the Russians just 1 minute before the attack the Israelis created an environment in which such a tragedy simply had to happen.

One minute from Tel-Aviv? By that time the Russians would have been well aware of a flight of F-16s from their AD systems and naval pickets. (See my comment about the ‘Auvergne’ and the ‘Pytlivy’).

There would have multiple reports coming in very quickly into the Syrian-Russian command structure, with two different attitudes.

21 September

Re the French Navy ‘Auvergne’ presence in the Eastern Med. The French have had a ship off the Levant for a while. Back in April, the French reported being hassled by Russian aircraft.

When the Russian MoD released their visual on the Il-20 shoot-down (scroll down to see it), the FREMM ‘Auvergne’ got a mention. Guess what? There was also a Russian frigate in the vicinity, ‘Pytlivy’. So what ever happened on that night was recorded by their sensors and radar. Until such a time when the Russian MoD releases any more info, none of us will be any the wiser, on the reports (or timing) of missile launches (Aster or MdCN /Missile De Croisière Naval). The French MoD state no missiles were launched from the ‘Auvergne’.

NB: that leads to the question, if other sea-launched missiles did strike Syria, who was it? An US DDG or submarine or Israeli Dolphin submarine.

I am not even going to attempt to understand the sequence of the event and roles, only to say that it isn’t just Israel, NATO and US also key close tabs on Syria and regularly exercise with the Israelis. Sly games, with all pretending to not be in the loop of one another.

20 September

This maybe unrelated to recent events in Syria, nevertheless noteworthy for timing and location:

The RAF escorted two Russian (RuAF)Tu-160 Blackjacks over the North Sea.

There is one heck of a conundrum here #Syria

Russian MoD is now denying the claim that the Il-20 was hit due to a failure in the Friend/Foe Identification (IFF).

Yet it is the Russian MoD who are quoted in the media:

“Syria S-200 that shot down its Il-20 did not have an IFF system for detecting Russian aircraft. Apparently, these IFF systems are not allowed to be exported outside of Russia.”

Just how integrated is the Lattakia coastal Air Defence??? -> see article:

Maybe Syria ought to suggest to Russia that all old #SAA anti-air systems are pulled out. Because if they cannot be integrated with the exclusive Russian IFF properly then they shouldn’t be deployed near where the #Russian operate their main aviation. Then Russia can cover the area with S-400. Or let Syria have S-300.

RIA Novosti reports that the U.S. Navy has offered Russia in help in searching for the downed Il-20.

This is surreal.

The US Navy is apparently ready to provide assistance. RIA Novosti quoted the 6th Fleet representative Kyle Raines.

USAF aerial reconnaissance flight over Eastern Mediterranean,high-altitude U2 usually tracked
19 September Airspace Restrictions

#Syria #RussianNavy. #NOTAM

#Navarea III warnings:

Restricted no-fly zones for Russian Naval exercises, limiting Israeli AF access to much higher altitudes.

#Syria #RussianNavy. #NOTAM

Restricted no-fly zones.

After the shooting down of IL-20, a significant change has happened.
The location & numbers of red coloured sections on today’s map speak volumes on Russian responses. Compare it to Tuesday’s map.

“ it would be steps that everyone will notice, "- President Putin is reported to have said in relation to taking responses to the latest Israeli military attack.

Ah... the Israelis are sending a delegation to Moscow:

Something is not adding up here. Is Russia being polite in taking the action they are? Are they covering for Israel by this spectacular window dressing? Many questions.

The NOTAM map wasn’t full of red boxes yesterday.

Movements of US Navy P-8s over Eastern Mediterranean indicates probable presence of вмф corresponding to NOTAM areas:
Here’s one example:

Just in case you’re wondering about the locations to the south west of Cyprus, that would be where US Navy frequently loiters for Replenishment At Sea (look up when USNS Big Horn was last deployed in Med for example).USNS Big Horn

But also I am guessing that is where the ‘Admiral Essen’ could be too as an outlier- covering the air routes used by NATO, (having just left Poros in Greece).

Lastly, the USS Harry Truman has headed eastwards. The US routinely sends over a carrier or two for decades.

US carrier in 6th Fleet operational zone.

“to conduct full spectrum of maritime ops. CSG's return gives us opportunity to operate & train w/ @NATO allies & partners... to secure safe & prosperous region for all.” Vice Admiral Franchetti.

Section B

20 September

1️⃣ HMS Talent has just left Gibraltar: loaded with TLAMS.

With reference to FortRuss’s article on NATO & US Navy in the Med published - that mentions ‘Western Observers’ and doesn’t even want to acknowledge them by bothering to provde hyperlinks.
One of the ‘Western Observers’ is none other than Michael Sanchez based in Gibraltar. Did the Fort Russ geniuses bother to VERIFY this wildly off the mark comment:

Oh. No. Just adding more unverifiable speculation, based on info that is 13 days old.

18 September Russian Naval activities in Syria…

"Taking part in the search for the crew of the Russian Ilyushin-20 plane, which crashed off Latakia, are eight ships and boats from Russia’s Navy.”

The ‘Professor Nikolay Muru’ is in position off Banias.

Update: the ‘Seliger’ has transited the Bosphorus. It will no doubt retrieve the remains of the crew, parts of the plane for forensic assessments and remove military sensitive equipment from the wreckage of the Ilyushin IL-20 surveillance plane. Much in the same way the Northern Fleet based ‘Yantar’ did with a crashed Su-30 last May.

Interesting: “Seliger vessel (Project 11982) is heading to the crash scene, carrying deep submergence vehicles and also navigation and sonar gear.”

More info

The wreckage of the Russian reconnaissance aircraft IL-20, shot down off the coast of #Syria, found 27 km west of the village of Banias in the Syrian province of Latakia. On Tuesday, September 18, reports Meduza with reference to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

Tou will notice from the Russian MoD image that the ‘Pytlivy’ was in the vicinity of the French Navy ‘Auvergne’.

For info: Israeli AF has previously launched air strikes against Syria from Lebanese airspace or using Lebanese airspace to transit.

So the fact that the ‘Auvergne’ was used as a kind of waypoint is interesting. Begs the question: did the French help the Israeli AF?

Similar, plenty of aircraft activities noted on the day and in the hours leading up to the airstrikes, including one US P-8.

Was the #USNavy P-8 in the Eastern Mediterranean doing some last minute data gathering for the Israeli air strike?

Miscoded US aircraft - USAF either P8 or Rivet Joint? recorded track off the coast of #Syria…

#RussianNavy #вмф