Yonca-Onuk offers new approach to combating piracy


Turkish shipbuilder Yonca-Onuk says that fighting pirates with frigates is like hunting a rabbit with a main battle tank and is consequently offering smaller, faster and cheaper boats as more effective solutions to the scourge of piracy.

Ekber Onuk, Vice chairman of Yonca-Onuk, said that since the end of the Cold War, focus has shifted to brown water operations, which require relatively small, agile boats. Piracy is a major threat at the moment and consequently Onuk have developed the ONUK MRTP24 “Kangal class” for escort duties. Named after the Anatolian shepherd dog, the boat is designed to be used in numbers to protect merchant vessels from pirates, much as a shepherd dog protects its flock. Onuk said he believed that instead of having corvettes and frigates conducting escort duties, it is better to have a dedicated and cost effective platform, like the Kangal.

On larger vessels like frigates, a significant portion of resources go to self-defence. This is not generally the case on smaller vessels, which often rely on other vessels in the fleet to provide protection or use their speed and agility to evade threats. A similar situation occurs regarding sensors – one small boat can acquire sensor information from another. Alternatively, a single boat, land station or container-based sensor package mounted on a merchant vessel could provide sensor data to a fleet of Kangal boats.

The Kangal class is based on the 26 m ONUK MRTP24 fast attack craft and could reach up to 70 knots, depending on engine configuration. The class will be armed with a remote controlled 25/30 mm gun and a remote controlled 12.7 mm machinegun.

Onuk said that there has been interest in the Kangal class for anti-piracy duties but there have been no sales yet. However, there is more interest in the type as a fast attack craft. Such a vessel can be equipped with anti-submarine rockets and surface-to-surface missiles, giving it a capability usually only found in larger vessels.

Yonca-Onuk makes composite boats for military applications, producing fast patrol boats between 15 and 50 metres in length. The company’s ONUK MRTP16 (18 m), MRTP20 (22.0 m) and MRTP34 (37 m) are in production, and there are plans for a new MRTP44 (47 m) and MRTP12 (13 m). Due to their advanced composite structure designed and built to DNV HSLC Rules, Onuk vessels have proved to have an outstanding robustness and have very low maintenance, offering a service life exceeding thirty years. The company aims to be the Porsche or Bugatti of the seas when it comes to quality and as a result their boats are quite expensive.

Around 125 vessels are in service around the world with customers that include Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Pakistan, Georgia, Northern Cyprus and Turkey. Yonca-Onuk has sold 34 MRTP 16 Fast Intervention Craft to the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority of the United Arab Emirates and is currently negotiating the sale of larger ONUK platforms. Yonca-Onuk has delivered three boats to Egypt as part of an ongoing contract. Included in the contract, for an initial six boats, is a limited transfer of technology agreement, to Alexandria Shipyard, which is building three of the MRTP 20 Improved Fast Intervention Craft.

On January 10 Yonca-Onuk delivered its 99th boat from its Istanbul shipyard. This was one of three MRTP 16 boat for Qatar’s navy, capable of 68 knots – Onuk’s fastest so far. The company hopes to deliver its 200th vessel in 2016. This may even be an unmanned version as Onuk has already built one unmanned vessel for the Turkish Navy.

Apart from boats, Onuk is using its composites expertise to build sports cars and will deliver its first vehicle in early June.

Onuk is currently exhibiting at IDEX and NAVDEX 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, between February 17 and 21.