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Izmir, Turkey

Izmir is an ancient city facing the Aegean Sea on Turkey's West Coast. It is one of Turkey's largest cities and a major port.

Turkey joined NATO on 18 February 1952. On 11 June 1952, NATO authorities decided to establish Allied Land Forces Southeastern Europe (LANDSOUTHEAST) in Izmir to be commanded by a United States (US) Army general officer who would have Turkish and Greek general officers as his deputies. The actual establishment of LANDSOUTHEAST occurred on 8 September 1952, when US General Willard G. Wyman assumed command and established his headquarters at Sirinyer. Headquarters LANDSOUTHEAST was initially staffed by Turkish, Greek and US military personnel and NATO international civilians. In 1954, representation was extended to French, Italian and United Kingdom military personnel. It was at this time that LANDSOUTHEAST moved to its newly constructed headquarters building in the Alsancak area of Izmir.

In 1966 the first major change occurred when French military personnel were withdrawn from LANDSOUTHEAST followed by the Greek withdrawal in 1974. On 30 December 1977, SHAPE and Turkish military authorities announced another change in the command structure of LANDSOUTHEAST to be effective July 1, 1978. The command billet was to be filled by a Turkish four star Army general with a US Major General as his deputy. On 30 June 1978, General Sam Walker handed over the command to General Vecihi Akin as the first Turkish commander of LANDSOUTHEAST.

Construction of a new headquarters facility in Sirinyer, Izmir was completed in March 1994 and LANDSOUTHEAST moved into the facility in April 1994, and in July 1994, two German Army officers were assigned to LSE for the first time. The headquarters garrison at Sirinyer was named General Vecihi Akin Garrison in March 1996, after the first Turkish LANDSOUTHEAST Commander. An agreement with Canada was reached in 1997, and two Canadian officers were assigned to LSE in August of 1998. In 1998 NATO announced the implementation of the new military command structure with an activation date of 1 September 1999. Implicit in this structure is the assumption of a joint capability in the southern region, and major changes in the international staffs. The Joint Headquarters SOUTHEAST establishment now includes personnel from Greece, Hungary, Netherlands and Spain as well.

Allied Land Forces Southeastern Europe is a NATO unit responsible for deterring all forms of aggression along the Turkish Straits, eastern Trace, and Turkey's southern border and eastern frontier. Landsoutheast headquarters is located at Vecihi Akin Garrison, about 15 minutes from downtown Izmir. Also located at Akin Garrison is the Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force. SIXATAF's mission is to ensure full-time air defense of Turkey, and the combat readiness of all assigned forces.

Izmir is located on Turkey's west coast along the Aegean Sea, 150 miles south of the Dardanelles, the strait that divides Europe and Asia. This modern metropolis is the third largest city in Turkey with more than four million people living and working here. Since there is no US base here, almost 1,700 members of the American military community including family members, live and work alongside the Turkish population. Base functions are located mostly in the Alsancak area of Izmir in 27 buildings intermingled with civilian offices and shops.

One of Turkey's major seaports, second only to Istanbul, Izmir is a major outlet for a rich agricultural region where much of Turkey's tobacco and fruits are grown. In addition, the port handles much of Turkey's cotton, chromium and olive exports.

Fleet Landing is conveniently located on the downtown waterfront, a five-minute walk from the Konak Square shops and Bazaar to the south. The modern Alsancak district to the north, is also good for shopping, and there are plenty of bars and restaurants along the waterfront in between.

Sixth Fleet ports of call are also located throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Ship visits ensure continued access to essential bases and infrastructure. Engagement capitalizes on naval strengths of mobility and sustainability, using the inherent prestige of U.S. flagged warships. Formative engagement is further enhanced by incorporating the full range of naval assets -- including Seabees, the chaplaincy, the Judge Advocate General corps, and civil affairs units -- during port visits.

The base operates a recreation park with a swimming pool, football and softball fields, and a gymnasium. In town there is a physical fitness center, recreation center, library, and Turkish opera/concert halls.

The commissary and Base Exchange are well stocked with "necessities" if not with luxury items. Special orders take a while, but the system is available. Educators will find all the "necessity" services available in Izmir. The base exchange has a selection of appliances and some furniture. Many furnishings can be purchased on the Turkish economy.

A USAF medical and dental facility is located in Izmir. Most medical complaints are handled by the clinic staff. Some diagnostic services require air travel to the hospital in Incirlik or Germany. MEDEVAC flights are frequent and require up to 1 week's absence from Izmir. There are a number of English speaking Turkish doctors in the community who may be utilized for routine or emergency treatment.

In April 2002, the base transited to a unaccompanied tour. As a result, the Izmir American School closed in June 2002. For nearly 50 years, the school had educated the children of U.S. military people assigned to NATO's Joint Command Southeast headquarters and the 425th Air Base Squadron there.

Izmir is situated at the east end of Izmir Bay. To reach the main facilities of the port of Izmir, a ship must enter Izmir Korfezi (inlet) from the Aegean Sea on a southeasterly course for about 20 nmi, then turn eastward through Izmir Bay for about 10 nmi.

The climate in Izmir is moderate. The winters are mild, but windy. Persons suffering from respiratory problems should be cautioned that in many cases these problems become more severe because of the pollution created by the utilization of cheap coal for heating. The summers are fairly warm.

Northwestern Turkey is divided by a complex waterway that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean Sea. The channel passing between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara is named the Istanbul Bogazi, more commonly called the Bosporus. The Sea of Marmara is connected to the Aegean Sea by a channel called the Canakkale Bogazi, also known as the Dardanelles. The entrance to Izmir Inlet is situated on the Aegean Sea coast approximately 85 nmi south of the southern entrance to the Dardanelles.

The topography of Turkey varies from the lowlands of coastal regions to mountains exceeding 16,000 ft. East of Istanbul the Pontic Mountain Range is oriented east-west along the north coast of Turkey, and in some areas extends to the shore of the Black Sea. Much of central Turkey south of the Pontic Mountain Range is a relatively high area known as the Central or Anatolian Plateau. The Taurus Mountain Range extends east-west south of the Anatolian Plateau. The Aegean Mountains, with some elevations exceeding 8,000 ft, lie roughly north-south on the western side of Asian Turkey. Much of the country is interspersed with lakes.

Access to the harbor from the Aegean Sea is through Izmir Inlet where depths range from 25 to 40 fathoms. Radar may be the most reliable means to fix a ship's position in the inlet. Significant differences may exist between actual depth soundings and the charted depths between the seaward approach and the middle harbor anchorage in Izmir Bay. Depths may vary by 6 to 8 ft at Pelikan Bank; by 6 to 12 ft in the vicinity of Yenikale; and 12 to 18 ft inside the middle harbor anchorage area.

Significant dangers lie adjacent to the channel; merchant ships have gone aground in the vicinity of Pelikan Bank because of failure to use proper vigilance and all navigational aids available. Caution should be exercised when transiting near Yenikale. The channel, marked by two buoys, is approximately 900 ft wide at the buoys, decreasing to 600 ft east of the buoys. Caution should also be exercised near Cakal Burnu (point) by giving it a wide berth.

The northern, main entrance to the inner harbor of the old port is 130 ft wide with a depth of 40 ft. All ships use the main entrance, however liberty boats may use the southern entrance when going to/from the inner harbor's fleet landing.

Pilot use is not compulsory, but is recommended for all ships unfamiliar with the port when proceeding to the middle harbor anchorage area. Ship masters who are not familiar with the local waters board pilots near Pelikan Bank. Pilots are required for entrance to the inner harbor of the old port, and board ships just outside the northern entrance to the inner harbor. Pilot use is not required for aircraft carriers proceeding to their normal anchorage area.

Izmir is Turkey's third largest port and has the best natural harbor. Traffic at the harbor is not congested; an average of only about six ships transit the channel each day. Twelve ships can load/unload simultaneously, but Izmir is primarily a discharge port for tankers. The port is divided into several sections: outer harbor, middle harbor, inner harbor, and an explosives anchorage. The inner harbor has two primary port facilities: the old port which is sheltered by a breakwater and Alsancak. The navigable area of the harbor measures approximately 3 by 6 nmi. Vessels of any length with maximum draft up to 33 ft can operate at Izmir. However, the old port has a length restriction of 540 ft with a maximum permissible draft of 26 ft.

Although anchoring is the norm, submarines and patrol combatants are med-moored inside the breakwaters at the old port. Turkish Navy vessels also moor at the old port. There is room for eight vessels with drafts of 24 to 30 ft to berth in the harbor. Depth verification alongside quays is recommended prior to med-mooring. Two primary anchorages are identified. the aircraft carrier anchorage west of Yenikale in depths of about 105 ft. the middle-harbor anchorage off of the old port breakwater in depths of 46 to 52.5 ft.

Holding in mud bottoms is good at both locations. 'Camel barges' are used alongside ships at both anchorages to facilitate the loading and unloading of small boats, but are not used at the fleet landings. The fleet landing for ships anchored in the middle harbor is in the old port inner harbor, next to the customs house and close to the berthing area for the Turkish Navy vessels. The fleet landing for carrier personnel is located directly south of the aircraft carrier anchorage.

No dry docks are available at Izmir. A slip 725 ft long with a 174 ft cradle and 500 ton lift, plus four slips of 100 to 600 tons lift are available. Repair shops are available to perform deck and engine repairs, basic metal fabricating, welding, milling, basic electrical work, and carpentry. Mechanical handling facilities include rail- mounted cranes, mobile cranes to 60-ton lifting capacity, and a 50-ton floating crane.

Turkey's third largest city and second largest port (after Istanbul), Izmar lies midway down the country's Aegean coast at the foot of a large, sheltered bay. Known to the Turks as "Beautiful Izmir", the city is proud of its broad palm-lined avenues, bustling commercial life, and its two big summer festivals: the International Arts Festival (June-July), and International Trade Fair (August-September). There are few relics of Izmir's illustrious past - it was known as Symrna in ancient times, when it was one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean region. Today, Izmir appears largely modern. It was badly damaged during the Turkish War of Independence in 1922, and most of what you see has been rebuilt since.

Greek settlers were the first to appreciate Izmir's safe harbor in the 3rd millennium BC. Two thousand years later, it's said that the blind Greek poet Homer lived here while he wrote The Iliad, an epic poem describing the siege of Troy. Symrna was founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th Century BC, on top of Mt. Pagos, where the remains of the Kadifekale fortress beer witness to thousands of years of history from Alexander through periods of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule.

If Izmir itself is little short on tourist attractions, it sure makes up for it with world-famous tourist sites like the ancient city of Ephesus within easy reach of a day trip, plus popular distractions such as good shopping, great value waterfront restaurants and welcoming bars. You'll also receive a warm welcome from the 741st Air Base Squadron based here in Izmir. Sixth Fleet personnel can use the base facilities downtown, sports facilities out at Bayrakli Park, and the MWR can help you out on the sightseeing front, too.

The city of Izmir, formerly known as Smyrna, has an impressive history. There has been some sort of settlement here since at least 3000 B.C. Destroyed by wars in 600 B.C., the city was rebuilt by Alexander the Great about 200 years later. During the crusader expeditions to the Holy Land in the 14th Century, Smyrna was invaded by the Knights of Rhodes. At the end of World War I, Turkey was partitioned among the allies, and Greece was given the Aegean coast, including Izmir. But the Turks' great leader, Pasa Mustafa Kemal, later to be known as Ataturk, decided Turkey would be a nation and drove the allies out. Many of the Greek forces that were able to escape Kemal's advancing troops exited the country from Izmir. On September 9, 1922, Ataturk entered a liberated Izmir - and it has been free ever since.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:51:12 ZULU