A few days ago the Turkish Daily Sabah run an article about the Barbaros Action Plan of Turkish Navy.
The owners of Sabah have a very personal and close relationship with Turkish Prime Minister Mr. Erdoğan. That creates a dilemma. Did Sabah run that article because they have received some insider information from sources close to Prime minister or did they wrote this article to appear niche to Ankara and to create a public opinion that supports Ankara’s latest measures against Isreal.
Any way the article has found a relative large audience on the internet and is used by many analysts pundits, bloggers etc as a source for their writings about the latest Turco – Isreali crisis.
But to be honest here is not much in that article beyond the very obvious fact that the presence of Turkish Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean will increase. Well this should be not news to anyone, ( including regular readers of this blog) as Turkish Navy is trying to increase its presence in the last couple of years.
SABAH is releasing an important detail regarding the Turkish Navy’s presence. Declaring their Plan B in response to Israel’s attitude following the release of the Palmer report, it turns out that the decision to “take all precautionary measures to establish further presence in the Eastern Mediterranean” is actually a part of an important plan of action.
In upcoming days, Turkey will begin to display a more active presence along with maritime components in both the east and southern regions of Cyprus. Within this framework, the number of frigates, assault boats, submarines and naval station planes serving in the Mediterranean Shield Operation which provide security in the Eastern Mediterranean will also be on the incline.
The Barbaros Action Plan, which aims to display the Turkish Navy’s presence in neighboring seas, now plans for Turkish maritime components to be in constant navigation not only in the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean but also in the Adriatic Sea, the Red Sea as well as the Indian Ocean.
In 2010, the first display of presence conducted by the Turkish Sea Task Group had the Turkish Navy paying visits to ports in the Aegean, the Mediterranean and the Adriatic. During that time the public of the nation’s visited were allowed to come on board to see the ships. The following is a list of the Turkish Navy’s activities in the Mediterranean, Aegean and Black Sea as well as the Adriatic, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean:
Well Turkish Navy is maintaining a regular and strong presence especially in the Black Sea and Turkish frigates has been present in the fighting against piracy in Gulf of Aden since 2008. So far there is nothing new there except the part I have emphasized. And this was expected after the statements of Mr. Davutoğlu and Mr. Erdoğan last week.
I do not see anything really newsworthy in the Sabah’s article. It just states the obvious, shares a little information about the ongoing operations of Turkish Navy and gives the plan a name.
MEDITERRANEAN SHIELD TO BE ACTIVATED: It turns out that there are new procedures being put into place to further activate the Mediterranean Shield which was first established by the National Security Council in 2006 in order to establish security in the region following the establishment of the Ceyhan region as a center for energy. Upon Israel’s insistence on continuous postponement in regards to the apology issue, the number of frigates in the Mediterranean Shield program will be increased from two to four, the number of assault boats from three to five and the number of coast guard ships will be increased from one to three.
This paragraph raises the questions a) Whether the Operation Mediterranean Shield was deactivated? b) If so when it was deactivated? As far as Turkish Navy is concerned this Operation started as a national mission in accordance with NATO’s Active Endeavor is aimed to protect the oil terminals in Ceyhan Adana and to provide a deterrence through constant presence in the SLOC’s east of Cyprus, leading to Ceyhan. I think that this inconsistency is due to the poor wording of the journalist or his/her lack of knowledge about the active operations of Turkish Navy.
One important question never mentioned in this article is whether Turkish Navy is going to set up permanent task forces or task groups. Both task groups established in 2010 and 2011 were temporary organisations with a specific purpose. The Task Group in 2010 sailed trough the Mediterranean including the Adriatic Sea and visited several African and European States. This year’s task group sailed through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. It conducted anti piracy patrols, escorted convoys and visited several African, Middle East and South East Asian States. In fact one frigate from this task force F-492 TCG Gemlik is still in the region. But the task forces are disbanded when their scheduled cruises ended. So whether Turkish Navy is going to create constant task forces is for me the question.
One of the main duties of Turkish Navy is to be present in any part of the world where Turkey has a national interest. This is why we keep a frigate around year for the last couple of years in Gulf of Aden: to protect the Turkish ships passing through the region among other nations ships. Current political situation forces Turkish Navy to be in Eastern Mediterranean.