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Turkey: Navy
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Armed Forces > Navy

NAVY


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 has 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 commander in chief of the Turkish navy in early 1995 was Admiral Vural Bayazit.

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 main categories of Turkish fighting ships are destroyers, frigates, submarines, and fast-attack craft launched accidentally by a United States warship during exercises in 1992. The Turkish captain and four other personnel were killed and a number injured. The destroyer subsequently was scrapped. In 1993 and 1994, eight newer Knox-class frigates were transferred to Turkey by the United States.

In 1994 four MEKO-200 class frigates of German design were in the inventory, and an additional four modernized MEKO-200 frigates are to be delivered between 1995 and 1998. Construction is split, with the first four frigates having been built in Germany and four being built at the naval shipyard at Gölcük, with German equipment packages. The vessels are armed with five-inch guns, Harpoon SSMs, and Sea Sparrow SAMs.

The submarine force consisted originally of United States World War II-era diesel-powered attack vessels of the Guppy class. Seven of these were still listed in 1994, but their utility was doubtful. Since 1975 Turkey has been acquiring German 20-class (type-1200) submarines, quiet-running craft smaller than the Guppies but suitable for defending the approaches to the straits as well as Turkey's coastal waters. The first three of the six vessels were built in Germany and the next three were built at Gölcük. Four additional 209-class submarines of the more advanced type-1400, armed with sub-Harpoon SSMs, are to be added between 1994 and 1998.

The sixteen missile-armed fast-attack craft in the Turkish fleet in 1994 were a mixture of older and newer technologies. The most up-to-date units were eight Dogan-class vessels equipped with Harpoon SSMs. They were built in Turkey along the lines of the German Lürssen 57. Two more fast-attack craft of the Yildiz class are to be delivered in 1995. These high-speed vessels would be especially effective against ships attempting to transit the confined waters in and around the Turkish straits.

The amphibious force of sixty-six vessels in the inventory at the end of 1994 would be sufficient to land Turkish infantry and tanks in individual operations or in conjunction with other NATO assault forces. The inventory of twenty-nine minelayers and minesweepers would have the task of implementing a NATO decision to seal off the Black Sea. Turkish officers are considered to be highly qualified in such operations, but in the mid-1990s minesweepers and minelayers were due for modernization.

In 1994 the naval air arm included fourteen Italian-built Agusta-Bell AB-204 and AB-212 antisubmarine helicopters, which could be flown off frigate flight decks. United States-manufactured Grumman S-2E Tracker aircraft, flown by air force personnel and used for land-based antisubmarine and marine reconnaissance, were due to be replaced. The marine contingent of some 3,000 officers and troops was organized as a brigade of three infantry battalions and one artillery battalion, plus support units.

Data as of January 1995




Last Updated: January 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Turkey was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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