The Turkish Navy task group arriving in South Africa on Monday will spend a number of days conducting live weapon firings of surface-to-air missiles at the Denel Overberg Test Range.
The Barbaros Turkish Naval Task Group – 2014 (TMTG-14) departed Turkish Naval Base Gölcük on March 17 to start its 102 day circumnavigation of Africa. The Task Group comprises the frigates TCG Gediz (F-495), TCG Orucreis (F-245), the corvette TCG Heybeliada (F-511) and the replenishment tanker TCG Yarbay Kudret Gungor (A-595). TMTG-14 is expected to return to base on June 27, 2014.
The mission, dubbed “Over the Horizon,” is a demonstration of Turkish naval capability and support to Turkish foreign policy, during which the Barbaros Task Group will circumnavigate the African continent, making port calls in a total of 26 African states.
According to the Turkish Navy (Türk Donanmas?), further objectives of TMTG-14 are to contribute to the safety and maritime security of sea lanes, establishment of new or improved bilateral relations with African nations, support to African nation’s capacity building efforts in maritime security and bilateral/multi-national training and exercises.
This includes maritime security and boarding training with the SA Navy in Simon’s Town as well as in Lagos, Nigeria; Pointe-Noire, Congo; Luanda, Angola and Mombasa, Kenya.
The Barbaros Task Group took part in the Obangame Express Exercise from April 19 to 21 in Lagos, Nigeria. This exercise was planned by the United States Africa Command (Africom) and is an at-sea maritime exercise aimed at bettering co-operation among participating countries to increase maritime safety and security in the Gulf of Guinea. Its focus is maritime interdiction as well as boarding, search and seizure operations.
The Barbaros Task Group is expected to arrive in Simons’ town on May 5. From there it will depart directly to the Denel Overberg Test Range in the Overberg region on the southern coast before returning to Simons’ town on May 9. The Task Group will conduct live ammunition and guided missile firing exercises at the advanced weapons systems testing facility. This will include the use of the SM-1 Standard medium-range surface-to-air missile, the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow ship-borne short-range anti-aircraft and anti-missile weapon system, the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) infrared homing surface-to-air missile and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) systems.
The Barbaros Task Group will make a port call in Cape Town from May 10 to 15, with three warships docking at the V&A Waterfront in Table Bay Harbour. The exact dates and hours of public visits will be announced later.
After departure from Cape Town, TMTG-14 will visit east African countries and provide support to anti-piracy operations and contribute to maritime security in the Indian Ocean.
The Barbaros Task Group will also conduct humanitarian assistance activities and exhibit Turkish national defence industry products at the various ports of call.
Whilst this is the first ever sail by the modern Turkish Navy past the Cape of Good Hope, it certainly is not the first time Turkish maritime forces have visited Cape Town. 148 years ago, two Ottoman Navy warships, the corvettes Izmir and Bursa, visited Simon’s Town in September 1866. The vessels had left Constantinople the previous year and where on their way to the Persian Gulf to protect pilgrims traveling to Mecca for the Hajj.