By Aimen Eljali.
Tripoli, 18 June 2013:
The first Turkish navy ship to enter Libyan waters since 1911, when the Ottomans lost what became Libya to the Italians, docked yesterday in Tripoli harbour. The frigate, TCG Heybeliada, arrived yesterday morning on a visit designed to promote Turkish-Libyan naval ties, including support for the Libyan navy.
The visit also celebrates the 500th anniversary of the world map drawn in 1513 by Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis and is part of North Africa tour to mark it.
As well as Tripoli, the frigate is visiting ports in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. It arrived from Alexandria.
At a press conference on board yesterday, attended by members of the Libyan navy, Turkish navy officers spoke both of the relations between the two countries and the need for naval cooperation between all Mediterranean countries, particularly in the field of military training. In Libya’s case, this was anticipated to include support from the Turkish navy in the rebuilding of the Libyan navy and training for Libyan naval cadets. It is also expected to include the construction of vessels as well as the provision of expertise and technical support, as well as an exchange of visits and consultations between officials of the two countries’ navies.
The vessel’s commander said during the press conference that what is now Libya and Turkey had enjoyed good relations for 500 years. Asked if the Turkish naval skill support had been offered to Libya, a Libyan navy officer said that a number of friendly countries has agreed to provide help and support.
The 2,300-tonne Heybeliada was the first of four new frigates built in the military arsenal in Istanbul as apart of Turkey’s $4 billion naval development programme. Named after Heybeliada island in the Sea of Marmara, where the Turkish Naval Academy was established in 1773, it entered service in September 2011.
It was due to leave Tripoli today.
The Turkish Navy has almost 50,000 staff, 17 frigates, seven corvettes, 14 submarines and 27 fast patrol boats. It also has 75 aircraft.