Just over a week ago the Barbados Turkish Maritime Task Group departed Turkish Naval Base Golcuk to start its circumnavigation of Africa.
The task force comprises the frigates F-495 TCG Gediz, F-245 TCG Orucreis, the corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada and the replenishment tanker A-595 TCG Yarbay Kudret Gungor Bosphorus Naval News reported.
South Africa is penned is as a definite for the group with SA Navy fleet headquarters at Simon’s town a port of call . The Denel Overberg Test Range will host the visitors for missile firing exercises in May.
Also on the task group’s mission list is 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.
Orucreis is also scheduled to take part in the Obangame Express Exercise from April 19 to 21. This is a US Naval Forces Africa 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.
During the 102 day deployment the task force will navigate the African continent from west to east making 40 port visits in 28 countries. Exercises will be conducted with a number of African navies during the deployment.
It also marks the first crossing of the Cape of Good Hope by Turkish ships in 148 years. All told the mission is expected to log around 15 000 nautical miles during the deployment.
This deployment is not just a navigational and training exercise around Africa. It is also a powerful application of Turkish soft power to Africa the publication said. During the last decade Turkey realised there is more to Africa than the Mediterranean countries where Turkey had links for centuries. With the discovery of sub-Saharan Africa Turkish entrepreneurs started to do business with these countries. They were followed quickly by missions of Turkish Foreign Ministry and flights from Turkish Airlines.
As with the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) task group which did a similar voyage starting in November last year, the Turkish maritime group will also have representatives from a number of Turkish defence companies aboard who will use the vessels as a floating showcase for their products and use port visits to actively market them to local navies and defence forces.