Turkish Naval Buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean

Turkish Naval Buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean

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According to Turkish daily Sabah, Turkey’s new strategic focus is shifting from the Aegean towards East Mediterranean. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had indicated earlier that Turkey would take steps towards ensuring freedom of navigation in Eastern Mediterranean, as a reaction to the Palmer report. In the following days it is expected that the Turkish Navy will start to assert its presence in larger numbers around Cyprus. Accordingly, more frigates, gunboats, submarines, naval helicopters and sentry jets will be allocated to what is called ‘Operation Barbarossa: Aegean Shield’. Additionally, Turkish Navy will now be in constant cruise in the Adriatic, Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

According to the plan, Turkey will reinforce its earlier 2006 Aegean Shield operations initiated to protect the territorial waters around Ceyhan area, as the port city has become a major natural gas transportation hub. Based on the strategic concerns over the protection of the Ceyhan area and following Israel’s refusal to apologize over the death of 9 Turkish civilians in the Mavi Marmara debacle, Turkey has deployed 2 additional frigates, gunboats and sentry ships each. Also, in addition to Konya 3rd Main Air Force Command, Izmir 2nd Main Air Force command is now designated as the second air cover base responsible from the protection of the area.

Finally, the plan introduces constant cruise duty to the Turkish Naval Mission Group (Frigates Barbaros, Gelibolu, Gemlik and Kudret Gungor – 1st logistical support ship – 3 naval helicopters – underwater assault and defense elite commando units) which had visited Oman, UAE, Pakistan, India, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Jordan port cities in the last 3 months.