>TCG Gaziantep Meets Lone Turkish Ocean Rower

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This is the kind of story that makes me sentimental and warm in side.

On Monday Turkish frigate TCG Gaziantep rendezvoused with Turkish solo ocean rower Erden Eruç of the coast of Madagascar. He is committed to his human powered journey around the globe.

Mr. Eruç left Australia 110 days ago and was alone since then. The sailors of the frigate were the first people he has seen for a while.

As he was entering the part of the Indian Ocean with high piracy activities, the commander of CTF-151 Rear Admiral Sinan Ertuğrul was personally tracking the progress of Mr. Erden Eruç and exchanging e-mails with him.

The feeling to be greeted and escorted by a Turkish frigate thousand miles away from Turkey and miles away from the nearest shore must be difficult to put in words. Mr. Erden Eruç is in his own words:

Today was the day of rendezvous with the Turkish frigate TCG GAZiANTEP. On board was Rear Admiral Sinan Ertugrul, the present Commander of the Combined Task Force (CCTF) assembled to counter Somali piracy in the area. Observing that my pace had increased considerably, doubled in fact on account of the strong currents under me, he had moved up this rendezvous at sea by a week. He had been kind to write to me personal emails to inform me of piracy activities and security measures. After considering a few options and running them by our team, a joint decision was made on where to attempt my landing while avoiding problem areas.

Now en route to my destination, the CCTF was coming to honor this crossing, to be present on this joyous occasion. He was on a frigate named after my mother’s hometown. My mother was born in Kilis near the Syrian border and grew up in Gaziantep. My father met her there. Much of her relatives still live in that area. This was indeed to be a special day.

The helicopter ran circles around me, they were taking pictures from above, making me giggle uncontrollably, laugh and hoot and holler. This was turning into a party already!

Reading, stories such as this or this, when a foreign navy escorted and protected a lone compatriot in the vastness of the oceans, made me jealous. I see such gestures as a sign of seamanship. Such gestures a are a bold and loud announcement that, your navy never lets you down, or helps you where ever you are. Turkish Navy did not used to make such statements very often or publicly. It is good to see that this is changing.

I find it personally touching that Rear Admiral Sinan Ertuğrul takes time to personally communicate with a lone ocean rower.

I think that this meeting was a moral booster for all participants. Mr. Eruç knows that even in the dangerous and pirate infected waters of remote Indian Ocean there is a Turkish frigate he can count on if he needs. And the crew of TCG Gaziantep knows that their seemingly endless cruising on the vast oceans is not for nothing and their presence do mean a lot to many really.

Photos from here.
Click here to learn more about Mr. Eruç’s adventure.

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