Turkish navy's star frigate joins NATO drill
The Dynamic Manta 2020 drill - an annual advanced anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare exercise - kicked off on Feb. 24 off Italy's Sicily Island and will continue through March 6.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency, Commander Captain Alper Doğukanlı of Barbaros-class TCG Salihreis frigate, said the drill in which nine NATO countries are taking part, was planned by the Allied Marine Command and NATO Submarine Command.
TGC Sahilreis completed preparations at the Port of Catania prior to the exercise.
He noted that the exercise hosted by Italy aims to implement and test aerial, surface and submarine cooperation methods against submarine threats in the Ionian Sea and Central Mediterranean.
"Turkey will join the Dynamic Manta 2020 drill with S70 helicopter-deployed frigate TCG Salihreis, a submarine - the TCG March 18, a maritime patrol aircraft and four personnel to work at the drill headquarters," Doğukanlı said.
He said the exercise would include intense submarine warfare training and a total of 45 submarine defense warfare session.
Along with Turkey, the U.S., Spain, France, Germany, Canada, England, Italy and Greece are participating in the drill.
"In addition to the activities carried out at high pace in the surrounding seas, the Turkish Naval Forces also fulfills its responsibilities under the NATO alliance with great devotion," Doğukanlı asserted.
Stressing that Turkey was making the maximum contribution to the drill, he said: "Turkey is the second country - among 29 NATO members - which provides the most support to the duties of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2)."
Turkey works for activation of Maritime Task Force
Recalling that the country initiated efforts to form the Turkish High Readiness Maritime Task Force (TURMARFOR) in July 2018 with the approval of the Turkish General Staff, he added: "An intense effort is being made to activate the Turkish High Readiness Maritime Task Force, which was declared to NATO.
"In this framework, the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship TCG Anadolu, the first vessel of the Turkish Armed Forces deployed with a strike fighter and that can transfer power, is planned to be put into service by 2022," he said.
In NATO's Long Term Commitments Plan, Turkey was assigned the duties of commander of the naval elements in 2023 and 2028, commander of the amphibious task force in 2025 and commander of the landing force.
Features of TCG Salihreis
On the features of his own ship, Doğukanlı said the Barbaros-class frigates had been built in Germany in 1998 and were 115 meters (377 feet) long, 15 meters (49 feet) wide, 4.5 meters (15 feet) in draft could travel at speeds of 18 knots and had a range of 4,100 nautical miles.
He said it was equipped with guided missiles against ships and aircraft, as well as arms and sensor systems.
Doğukanlı said AB212 or Sea Hawk helicopters could also land and take off from the ship.