Türk Deniz Kuvvetleri
Turkish Naval Forces
“History shows us that the country that possesses naval power is always destined to be supreme. And the country that does not have naval power is weakened. We needed this power yesterday and we need it today, and we will need it tomorrow," said Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defence minister, in September 2019 during the landing ceremony of TCG Kinaliada, which was produced under the country’s national program.
While Turkey has been part of NATO for more than six decades, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara managed to develop its military capacity indigenously. Events in the Eastern Mediterranean showed the improvement of Turkey’s naval fleet that managed to deter regional powers from Greece to the Greek Cypriot Administration, Egypt and other powers. The Turkish Navy has become one of the world’s ten sea powers, designing and building its own frigates among 20 other powers.
In 2020 Turkey had been in stiff competition with powers like Russia, France, Egypt and Greece in Libya's civil war. Ankara supports the war-torn country’s internationally-recognised UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) based in Tripoli against the warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose militias are based in Benghazi. Ankara has changed the course of the civil war by deploying its naval forces across the Eastern Mediterranean and providing its newly-developed drone technology to the service of the Tripoli government. The country managed to match other naval forces including France, Russia, Egypt and Greece, all of whom support Haftar, outplaying them in the region as the GNA forces march towards Sirte, a strategic coastal city, where the country’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was born.
The Turkish Navy’s success story lies in the recognition that Turkey could be a great power across the Mediterranean and even the globe as the country’s predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, had once determined rules of the engagement in the region. Turkey developed a powerful military doctrine, aiming to protect all of its maritime rights and political interests in the country’s three seas, which is called the “Blue Homeland”. In March 2020, Ankara conducted the country’s biggest maritime exercises simultaneously with more than 100 military vessels in its three seas: the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black seas. The exercises are also named after “Blue Homeland”.
“...it is clear many within Turkey’s political establishment believe that the country is close to standing shoulder to shoulder with other greater powers. The Turkish navy’s reformation represents an acute example of this emerging worldview...,” says Ryan Gingeras, a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, and an expert on Turkish, Balkan, and Middle East history. “With more than 87 percent of the country’s trade conducted via maritime ports of entry, and a number of transnational pipelines passing through Turkish territorial waters, the country’s naval capabilities have come to figure more prominently in contemporary Turkish thinking,” Gingeras wrote.
Turkey wants to compete with its Mediterranean neighbors on equal terms to claim its marine rights in the region by improving its naval capabilities, which are also crucial to secure the country’s vital economic interests. With more than 87 percent of the country’s trade conducted via maritime ports of entry, and a number of transnational pipelines passing through Turkish territorial waters, the country’s naval capabilities have come to figure more prominently in contemporary Turkish thinking. A desire to stake a claim to natural gas deposits off the coast of Cyprus has especially stirred the attention of policymakers in Ankara. The commencement of Turkish drilling operations, as well as rumoured plans for the building of a new Turkish naval base in northern Cyprus, are among the most recent signs that planners intend to project greater influence over the eastern Mediterranean.
The Turkish Navy has had 112 military vessels by 2020, and Ankara planned to add a total of 24 new ships - which include four frigates - before the Republic reaches the 100th anniversary of its founding in 2023. With its enlarged fleet, the Turkish Navy had become an imposing power in the Eastern Mediterranean, defending the status quo in the Aegean Sea and enhancing the security of its strategically crucial channels in the Dardanelles and Istanbul.
Numbering 54,000 individuals in late 1994 and 50,000 by 2017, 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, 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 Commander of the Navy had operational command of the Coast Guard, which in peacetime is under the Ministry of the Interior ( with some 80 patrol boats). Also in the Turkish Navy has one brigade of marines and naval commandos - 5th Detachment SAS (anti-sabotage combat swimmers) and the 9th detachment SAT (frogmen-saboteurs). Naval aviation includes 10 basic Spanish patrol aircraft CN-235M, 24 antisubmarine helicopter S-70B, and 29 multi-purpose transport helicopters and 9 transport planes.
By 2015 the core of the ship of the Turkish Navy are warships of predominantly foreign origin. The main striking force of the fleet - 16 frigates and corvettes 8. Among frigates release of 8 units of the "Gaziantep" (passed the Americans frigates of the "Oliver Hazard Perry," have all been modernized), 4 frigates of the "Yavuz" (German frigates type MEKO 200) and 4 of the frigate "Barbaros" (type MEKO2000TN-II) . Six available to the Turkish Navy corvettes are former French corvettes of the "D'Estaing" and corvette type 2 «MILGEM» Turkish private development (likely planned to build 8 units).
Turkish Navy Submarine forces represented 14 diesel submarines from Germany: including 8 modern project 209/1400 "Preveza" and six relatively new project 209/1200 "Atylay." These submarines are the most successful submarines are exported, they are in service with navies of 13 countries of the world. As part of the Turkish Navy 6 submarines of Project 209/1200 "Atylay", which entered the fleet from 1976 to 1989, will be replaced by modern German submarine type 214 airindependent propulsion (AIP), a contract for their construction was signed in 2011.
The head of the of the navy, an Admiral, reported directly to the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. 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).
By 2016 the Turkish fleet was the strongest fleet in the Black Sea. In 2013, Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov in an interview with "Free Press" said that Turkish fleet exceeded even the combined fleet of Russia and Ukraine by 4.7 times. Since then the situation has changed significantly. Even a hypothetical merger of the fleets of Russia and Ukraine after all the events of recent years can be forgotten. But the Russian Black Sea Fleet has finally started qualitatively updated with modern warships and yet significantly reduce the existing gap in the short term, it will not succeed in offsetting Turkey's lead.
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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