Military


Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri
Turkish Naval Forces

Numbering 54,000 individuals in late 1994, nearly 70 percent conscripts, the navy is responsible for defending the country against seaborne attack in time of war, for safeguarding the Turkish straits at all times, and for patrol and coastal protection along the extensive coastline that borders about two-thirds of the nation. The navy has an assigned NATO role in which it is responsible to the alliance's commander of NAVSOUTH in Naples. The commander of Turkish naval forces serves concurrently as commander, North-East Mediterranean (COMEDNOREAST), under NAVSOUTH. The Turkish navy shares in NAVSOUTH's mission of protecting a line of communications through the Mediterranean and the Black Sea and conducting antisubmarine operations in the event of a general war.

Turkish strategists feel that the creation of new countries in the Black Sea area, following the end of the Cold War, has imposed new missions on the navy. They point out that, whereas there were previously four littoral states on the Black Sea, since the breakup of the Soviet Union there are seven--Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. Russia retains the major share of the former Soviet Black Sea fleet, but Ukraine claims a number of vessels and base facilities. Because Turkey considers the Central Asian republics likely to make heavy use of the Black Sea for foreign trade, the maintenance of open sea-lanes is expected to become more important. Turkey foresees a greater flow of oil from the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Russia via pipelines to terminals at Iskenderun in the eastern Mediterranean, imposing additional requirements on the navy to ensure the safety of ports and sea-lanes in an increasingly strategic area.

The navy had three operational commands: the Northern Sea Area Command, based at Istanbul; the Fleet Command at Gölcük; and the Southern Sea Area Command at Izmir. The Fleet Command, the largest of the naval components, consists of specialized elements: the war fleet, the submarine fleet, the mine fleet, and the landing units. The zonal commands are the Black Sea (headquartered at Eregli), the Aegean (headquartered at Izmir), two straits commands (headquartered at Istanbul and Çanakkale), and the Mediterranean (headquartered at Mersin).

The Naval Training Command is based at Karamürsel on the southern coast of the Sea of Marmara. The naval academy near Istanbul is colocated with the Naval Lyceum, a four-year secondary school. Graduates of the lyceum and other high schools who are accepted as midshipmen at the naval academy are promoted to subensign after the four-year program, and then are assigned to sea duty for two probationary years before being commissioned in the regular navy. Entrance to the lyceum is highly competitive; only a small percentage of applicants pass the qualifying examinations.

The Petty Officers School at Istanbul receives applicants at age twelve for four years of secondary and naval preparatory instruction. Graduates are then admitted as petty officer candidates and, after four years of specialist training, are designated career petty officers at the entry grade. Conscripts assigned to the navy receive about four months of basic training and are then assigned to sea or shore duties for the balance of their required service.

The navy's inventory of ships is well maintained, and its officers and crews are considered to possess high levels of professionalism and readiness. Turkey participates in NATO exercises in its region and frequently takes part in national exercises of other NATO members. Its relations with other Black Sea naval powers are good. Mutual high-level naval visits have been exchanged with Russia, and negotiations have been opened on agreements to prevent incidents on and over the high seas with both Russia and Ukraine. Turkey conducted joint mine and search-and-rescue exercises with Bulgaria in 1993.

The Turkish Navy can participate in international operations and exercises beyond the Mediterranean Sea. Submarines can individually navigate up to 15.000 (fifteen thousand) nautical miles and return home bases.




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