Turkish navy sails in Med Sea to contribute to NATO’s security
There is no doubt that there is an ongoing complication in Turkey’s relationships with its longstanding allies at the NATO over a number of different reasons. Its decision to purchase Russia’s sophisticated S-400 anti-ballistic missile systems and different positions between Turkey and some prominent allied countries on Syria as well as in the east Mediterranean Sea over hydro-carbon reserves are just a few of these issues.
On the military side, however, there is another environment which was perfectly observed during NATO’s Dynamic Manta exercise, an annual anti-submarine warfare exercise that began on Feb. 25 in Sicily, Italy.
Turkey participates in this exercise in a highly visible and strong way with its submarine TCG Gür, frigate TCG Gelibolu and with a maritime patrol aircraft along with nine other NATO countries, including the United States, Greece, the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Spain. The drill involves more than 3,000 sailors from 10 nations, with five submarines, nine surface ships, six patrol aircrafts and 11 helicopters. These exercises are considered to be very important as submarines across the globe and around NATO borders constitute a potent and versatile challenge against the alliance.
Captain Ali Tuna Baysal, who commands the TCG Gelibolu, informed that his ship was part of a mission under the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG) until late April which includes joining the Dynamic Manta exercise, port visits and other joint activities in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
“Turkey is one of the naval forces that pledges most support to NATO exercises,” Capt. Baysal said in our meeting aboard the TCG Gelibolu. “The Turkish naval forces, as the strong ally of NATO, is continuing to fulfill its commitments for the alliance while carrying out its national duties. The naval training of NATO ships brings about important contribution for the development of mutual cooperation and coordination as well as the security of the Mediterranean,” he added.
Capt. Baysal recalled that Turkey’s extensive participation in such training and drilling activities was key in terms of its allied relationship with NATO, but not restricted to it. “It’s also important for us to show strength in the region,” he stated.
The Turkish contribution to the NATO naval training is not limited with just its submarine and surface ships. Its officers who are currently deployed at the NATO’s Maritime Command and SNMG 2 are also active in the planning and executing phases of such exercises.
Lt. Burak Dağlı, who is serving as an officer on the SNMG 2, explained that the Dynamic Manta constitutes the biggest anti-submarine naval exercise that NATO executes in the Mediterranean. “Turkey’s strong and visible participation in this exercise is very important and valuable for the NATO,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News on board of the SNMG 2 flagship, the HNLMS Evertsen of the Dutch naval forces.
Turkey launches Blue Homeland exercise
As underlined by Capt. Baysal, the Turkish navy at the same time continues to fulfill its national duties in the seas surrounding the country. A first will be made in the coming days as Turkey’s naval forces will launch its biggest and most extensive military exercise, the Blue Homeland, in the seas surrounding the Anatolian peninsula, namely the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
It’s the first time that an exercise will include all three seas and involve air and land forces as well. After the completion of this exercise, the bi-annual Seawolf Exercise will also take place in the coming months and will reiterate Turkey’s determination in protecting its rights in these waters.
The message against the recent attempts by Greece, Greek Cyprus and their partners in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is clear. Turkey will not take a step back from its rights in all these seas and will continue to show strength.