Not long after the Battle of Malazgirt (Manzikert), which was fought between the Turkish Seljuk Empire and the Byzantine Empire on 26 August 1071 and resulted in a decisive defeat of the Byzantine army, the Turks began to establish a navy on the shores of the Aegean Sea (Adalar Denizi) whose first naval commander was Çaka Bey. He won his first victory against the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Koyun Islands (Oinousses) on 19 May 1090
With the following millennium, Turks won many victories such as the Battle of Preveza, the Battle of Djerba (Derbe), and they excelled in large-scale naval battles in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean and even the Atlantic.
However, during the decline period of the Ottoman Empire, the navy also suffered from some major administrative and operational mistakes made by the rulers and administrators. The last chapter started under the leadership of Atatürk’s unique vision since the foundation of the Turkish Republic. In the last 100 years, the navy has gone from almost nothing to majestic.
Türkiye currently not only has a strong navy, but also has the skill sets to build national and indigenous naval vessels, produce state-of-the-art command and control, electronic warfare systems, as well as missiles, torpedoes and weapon systems.
The Turkish Navy has always pioneered the possession of domestic and national systems. The target was determined as having national and domestic technological ships, weapons and systems for a strong and sustainable navy.
Everything started with the establishment of software development command YAZGEM in Gölcük in the light of the right strategies of the navy leadership. YAZGEM’s greatest achievement was the K-5 project, modernization of the Combat Management System (CMS) for Tepe (Knox) class frigates. Later on, YAZGEM turned into Research Center Command (ARMERKOM) by increasing the number of engineers who were brilliant graduates of the Naval Academy. Then the projects started to come true by multiplying like snowballs. The first major project happened to be GENESIS, the modernization of the Gabya (Perry) class frigates.
The design and construction of the national battleship, which started in 1993 with the first attempts of the 15th Commander of the Navy, Admiral Vural Beyazıt, was definitely the ultimate goal. It was not an easy endeavor, fraught with many problems and obstacles both internally and externally. After some difficulties at the outset, the initiative was carried out under the leadership of the 20th navy commander, Adm. Özden Örnek, who believed and trusted his staff and personnel. For this reason, it was accepted that the first ship would be built by the Istanbul Shipyard Command as a prototype, with the responsibility for the performance and delivery schedule remaining with the Naval Forces Command. Eventually, the construction of the first corvette, TCG Heybeliada, took almost 20 years from the very beginning of the idea. Currently, the fifth ship, which is a frigate is under construction. The Naval Forces pioneered the national defense industry both by realizing the MİLGEM project and by putting forward ambitious projects such as Atmaca guided missile and Akya heavy weight torpedo. Currently, many more projects are underway.
Today, almost all components of a modern naval ship can be manufactured domestically for the Turkish Navy. This is a huge freedom and self-confidence. At least we are certain that when we fire our missiles and torpedoes they will hit the target no matter what.
It is clear that Türkiye, surrounded by seas on three sides, needs a strong naval force that can deter in peace and crisis, and win battles in war, in order to protect and safeguard its national rights and interests. Basic concepts of naval strategy are “command of the sea”, “sea control”, “sea denial” and “power projection”. The concept of “command of the sea” is almost impossible to achieve for any navy on the planet. Then we have the sea control, which many navies adopt and fight for, is basically to use a certain part of the sea for our own strategic purposes while preventing the adversary from using it. The third one is sea denial, which is a sub-level of Sea Control, is a strategy that weak navies have to use against the strong ones. Maritime power projection involves the use of sea-borne military forces directly to influence events on land.
The Turkish Navy, which has a large surface fleet supported by a powerful submarine and naval air fleet, undoubtedly has the capacity to establish sea control in the surrounding seas. And now the Turkish Navy is on the verge of a new era in which flat-deck landing ship TCG Anadolu will enter service. It is a multipurpose amphibious assault ship, capable of operating helicopters, UCAVs and also has a well deck. It will have the capability to transport more than 700 naval infantry personnel to anywhere in the world. It can carry 29 main battle tanks, 27 amphibious assault vehicles, 12 medium-lift helicopters and several attack helicopters.1 Within the scope of the high technological level reached in UAV systems in Türkiye, UAV models that can take off and land from the flight deck of Anadolu is about to be completed.
Within the scope of power projection to any point in the world, TCG Anadolu will enable all kinds of amphibious operations, peace support operations, immediate response and long-term sustainable support to disasters, all kinds of evacuations with or without consent, special forces operations, strategic coercion in support of diplomacy, show of power and so on.
As great Atatürk stated in his motto “Peace at home, peace in the world”, Türkiye wants peace. The Turkish government wants to solve all issues in light of his motto. On the other hand it is an inherent right for Türkiye to protect its rights arising from international law in its Blue Homeland, the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean for its people and future generations.
Turkish-Greek animosity has been a geopolitical lever always kept at hand and encouraged by some other states. I know these words will be in vain but, my advice to friends on the other side of the Adalar Denizi is not to harbor enmity towards Türkiye. It is of no use to either side of the coast. The Greeks have to abandon the language of enmity. They should not put themselves into a buffer country position for others. We can cooperate by establishing joint companies where we will benefit from all the resources of the Aegean together.
Gürdeniz, C. (2022). https://www.veryansintv.com/abdnin-akdenizdeki-51-eyaleti-yunanistan-ve-ikilinin-yeni-deniz-girisimi/ adresinden alındı
Nurhan Kahyaoğlu, P. D. (2022, Mart 16). MİLGEM SENFONİSİ II. BÖLÜM Viya Böyle!.. “Molto vivace”. nkconsultum.com: https://www.nkconsultum.com adresinden alındı
Till, G. (2006). SEAPOWER, A Guide for the Twenty-First Century. USA: Frank Cass Publishers.
Topuz, S. (2018). Modern Deniz Harbini ve Denizler için Mücadeleyi Anlamak. Alibi Yayıncılık.
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