‘President Erdoğan always asked me two things’

‘President Erdoğan always asked me two things’

A ceremony was held at Sedef Shipyard, at Tuzla, on Istanbul’s Asian side, a couple of days ago. It was the first step for building Turkey’s first aircraft carrier. In this giant shipyard, the new multipurpose amphibious assault ship called the TGC Anadolu is to be built.

I had the opportunity to chat with owner Metin Kalkavan, who was excited. He said, “Turkish engineering has become number one in the world. Look, in this dockyard there are floating power plants being built. We sell it to the whole world, from Ghana to Canada. They are 500 megawatt plants. You can ship it to any shore. Connect the line, and you have the energy. Cabinet ministers from all over the world come here to offer their bid.”

Kalkavan also spoke on the new multipurpose amphibious assault ship called the TGC Anatolia: “This is actually [Turkey’s] first aircraft carrier. F-35B type planes will land and take off. With an added ramp, it will be able to carry out this mission… Of course, we had to fight many fights. We have been the target of unjust accusations, but we have reached this day. We are proud as a family to have been able to build such a ship in Turkey.”

For the Anatolia assault ship, Kalkavan explained President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “After the project started, our president was constantly interested. Whenever he saw me, he would ask two things: ‘Mr. Metin, how is the ship project proceeding? When will the ceremony be?’ And he would also ask, ‘How is Rizespor doing?’ [Kalkavan is the chair of the Rizespor football club.] After asking about the ship he would smile and ask about Rizespor. Fortunately, we are able to hold the ceremony earlier this week. An immense technology is developing. The weapons hardware is being coordinated with Havelsan and Roketsan…”

Metin Kalkavan also explained how President Erdoğan saved the state 400 million euros at the bidding stage: “Do you know, despite the rumors generating at that time, Erdoğan forced prices to compete at such a degree; he motivated rival firms against each other. At the end, the tender was finalized at 400 million euros less.” 

The building of the warship has two positive effects: One is that Turkey is modernizing in ship engineering. The second one is that our Naval Forces will belong to the super league. Nuclear ships and aircraft carriers are regarded as the super league. 

Kalkavan also mentioned the injustices he had to endure, how his name was involved in several conspiracy phone records, but now, “We have our family name inscribed in history as the first to take a step to build an aircraft carrier.”

While the first local aircraft carrier was to be built, when the Turkish shipbuilding engineering industry exports floating power plants to the world, there is another matter that I have been writing about.  

It is the “dogfight” over the Aegean between Greek jets and our jets. The papers feature dozens of stories every year on the issue. 

There is constant war provocation on the Aegean Sea over the “continental shelf.” Turkey and Greece see each other as a threat. When Greece buys a jet, Turkey buys the same. When Turkey buys a warship, Greek buys a similar one. Billions of dollars are spent. Greece is in deep debt. These warships and jets are sold by the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, a body whose duty is to maintain peace in the world.

Thus, on the two sides of the Aegean Sea, two countries are designed to have poor populations but strong armies. 

I hope the developing local industry decreases this exploitation at least to a small extent. Congratulations to Anadolu.