Turkish Naval Forces

History of Turkish Naval Forces


1)The Period Od Anatolian Seljuks And The Principalities (11th-14th Century)

Kaptan-ı Derya Barbaros Hayreddin PaşaTurks were introduced to seas for the very first time as they emigrated from Central Asia to Anatolia and settled in Asia-Minor in 1071. Turks began to sail towards the blue waters to study the mystical world of the endless seas, which reminded them of the eternity. In this way, Turkish Maritime, having a deep- rooted historical heritage as well as traditions, which would extend from the past into the future, began to blossom. Turkish Maritime influenced the history of world maritime with the great Admirals like Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha and Kılıç Ali Pasha as well as the pioneers of global cartography, Piri Reis and Ali Macar Reis.

The Ottoman Turks combined the ideas of the West, enlightened as the Renaissance emerged in the Mediterranean, with the Eastern, Islamic and ancient Turkish civilizations and therefore created unique works, which are still treasured today. The Turks, who had performed great miracles and turned the Mediterranean into an almost inland sea in their golden age in the seas, would nevertheless pay a heavy price in the periods when they withdrew from the seas.In 1071, Oğuz Turks began to settle in Anatolia led by the Seljuk’s Sultan Alparslan. The territories of the first Turkish principalities were extended to the coasts of the Aegean and the Sea of Marmara.

ÇAKA BEY Emir Çaka Bey was the first pioneer, who introduced the maritime environment to the Turks. He was one of the most courageous raiders of the Seljuk’s Army, but was captured by the Byzantine Empire in 1078 when the Turks were marching towards the West.He constructed a shipbuilding facility, a kind of shipyard, deemed very modern for that era. The region around this facility developed to become a naval base. After this phase, ship-constructing activities commenced and the first Turkish Fleet of 50 sailing boats and rowboats was built in 1081. That year is extremely important in the history of the Turkish Navy, since it has been regarded as the foundation year of the Turkish Naval Forces. In the same year, He sailed into the warm waters of the Aegean Sea with the first Turkish Fleet.

The Turks were introduced to the seas and built a bridge of affection and respect between the seas and themselves. Yet, a price would be paid for sailing on those -sometimes dangerous seas: on 10 May 1090, Çaka Bey’s fleet confronted the Byzantine Fleet off the coast of the Koyun Islands in the Central Aegean Sea, where a battle was inevitable.

He commanded his fleet of 50 sailing boats by managing a series of tactical manoeuvres skillfully and the enemy fleet was struck repeatedly at its weakest points. Having suffered heavy losses, the Byzantine fleet was forced to withdraw. After this victory, Emir Çaka Bey broadened his control zone at the seas and reached Çanakkale with his fleet. The sudden death of Emir Çaka Bey in 1095 slowed down the development of the Turkish Maritime.

The Turkish settlement in Anatolia incited the movements against the Turks and the Muslims in particular, which led the formation of the Crusader Army. During the period of intensive Crusades starting from 1096 in Anatolia, the Turks were kept under pressure. For this reason, they had to settle in Central Anatolia; also, they had to protect themselves against the Mongol invasions.

Alanya Shipyard This sequence of events remarkably hindered the sea-oriented activities of the Seljuk Sultanate of Anatolia. Maritime activities were limited to a few ship construction and maintenance facilities in Sinop, Antalya, and Alanya. However, in this period, the Seljuk Sultan of Anatolia, Alaeddin Keykubat I , who had a reputation of being "The Sultan of the Two Seas ", set up fleets with the ships constructed at Alanya and Sinop Shipyards. The Alanya shipyard was considered to be the first organized one constructed in 1220 by the Turks.

In 1308, after the collapse of the Seljuk Sultanate of Anatolia as a result of Mongol invasions, frontier principalities were established, particularly in the Western Anatolia. The principality of Aydın (1300-1403) made significant progress in maritime issues especially in the period of Umur Bey. From 1334-48, Umur Bey, an experienced sailor, secured great victories against the Byzantine and the Genoese in the Aegean and ensured absolute sea control from Rhodes to the Çanakkale Strait, including the Peloponnesus and Rumelia shores. In parallel with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, the principalities in Anatolia had lost their authority and, during the period of Mehmet II the Conqueror (1451-1481), all were annexed by the Ottomans. The Ottoman Empire benefited from the experiences, facilities, shipyards and harbors of these principalities.

Umur BeyThe Ottoman Navy, which had played an important role in the rise of the Ottomans, acquired a strategic dimension by adding firearms to its inventory during the reign of Mehmet II the Conqueror.

In parallel with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, the principalities in Anatolia had lost their authority and, during the period of Mehmet II the Conqueror (1451-1481), all were annexed by the Ottomans.

The Ottoman Empire benefited from the experiences, facilities, shipyards and harbors of these principalities. The Ottoman Navy, which had played an important role in the rise of the Ottomans, acquired a strategic dimension by adding firearms to its inventory during the reign of Mehmet II the Conqueror.

2) The Period of the Ottoman Empire (14th-20th Century)

Undoubtedly, the rise and the decline of the Ottoman Empire were closely related to the capabilities of her Navy. The Ottomans had a powerful Navy when they were ruling 3 continents and honoring glorious victories. Equally, the loss of superiority on the seas was an important factor in the deterioration of the institutions of the Empire.

In fact, it was impossible for the Ottomans, which had expanded over 3 continents, to survive by ignoring the maritime activities. The history of the Ottoman Navy can be analyzed in 3 main periods: The period of the Fleet Commanders (1324-1390), the period of the Commander in Chiefs of the Navy (1390-1867) and finally the period of the Navy Ministry (1867-1922).

The Period of the Fleet Commanders (1324-1390)

In 1323, the territory of the Ottoman principality reached the Sea of Marmara with the conquest of Karamürsel. In 1324, the principality of Karesi sent a fleet of 24 ships under the command of Mürsel Bey to the Ottomans. In some sense, this deployment was the first stage of the foundation of the invincibility of the Ottoman Navy. After the Ottoman Principality established its sovereignty in the Eastern Marmara, the institutionalization of the Naval Forces started. In 1327, the first Ottoman shipyard was constructed in Karamürsel and the first Ottoman ship was built there. The Navy was organized into a hierarchical system and Kara Mürsel Bey became the Commander of the Fleet. He took his place among the pioneering sailors in the history of the Turkish Navy as the first Fleet Commander.

In 1334 and 1337 respectively, Gemlik and İzmit were captured, and thus it became easier for the Ottomans to pass through the Sea of Marmara to expand its dominance over Rumelia. Following Karamürsel; İzmit, Gelibolu and finally İstanbul became the centers of the Turkish Maritime.

The Period of Commander in Chiefs of the Navy (1390-1867)

The modern organization of the Ottoman Navy commenced in the period of Bayezid I (1389-1403). After the completion of the construction of the Gelibolu Naval Base in 1401, the term "Commander in Chief of the Navy" was used in the Ottoman Navy. Saruca Pasha was the first Commander in Chief in the history of the Turkish Navy. During the period of Mehmet II the Conqueror, the Ottomans, after the conquest of İstanbul, headed towards the Mediterranean after firmly establishing their sovereignty in the Aegean and the Black Sea. In 1455, Mehmet II the Conqueror constructed the Istanbul Shipyard (Tersane- i Amire) in Kasımpaşa and it was highly regarded by all foreign countries. It was one of the largest shipyards in the world.

An Ottoman Galleon in the 18 th Century During the same period, studies made by Turkish maritime scientists contributed to the world’s maritime. Muhiddin Piri Reis was one of the most important scholars in the Turkish Maritime history and he was well known through his excellent cartographic studies. In 1513 and 1528, he drew two world maps. Another gift from Piri Reis to the history of the world’s Maritime was his manual “The Navigation (Bahriye)”which he wrote twice in 1521 and 1525. In this unique work, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean were depicted in various aspects.

Preveze Naval Battle (27 September 1538) The Turkish Navy provided logistic support to the Ottoman Army during the march of Selim I towards Egypt. After the conquest of Egypt by Selim I (1512-1520), the Ottomans developed an interest in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. After Selim I, Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566) also attached great importance to the Ottoman Navy and it enjoyed its golden age during his reign. During this period, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha and his brothers Oruç and İlyas Reis, as well as many famous Turkish sailors such as Selman Reis, Murat Reis and Seydi Ali Reis, established an absolute dominance over the Mediterranean with their extraordinary brilliance in commanding the Ottoman Navy.

The maritime knowledge, experience and the tactical ingenuity of Barbaros Hayreddin Pasha was best demonstrated in the Preveze Naval Battle on 27 September 1538. The Crusader Fleet under the command of Andrea Doria was utterly bewildered by these strikes and they dispersed in panic. The Crusader Fleet became overwhelmed and withdrew suffering heavy losses. This victory left Barbaros as the undisputed master of the Mediterranean.

Turgut ReisMeanwhile, in 1538, Hadım Süleyman Pasha set out for the Arabian Sea with a fleet of 72 units and captured Aden. By gaining the mastery of the Persian Gulf, as well as the Red Sea, the Ottomans controlled all the routes leading from the Near East to India. In 1543, the Magnificent sent a fleet of 110 galleys, under the command of Barbaros, to support France against Spain.

That was the last expedition of Barbaros; he died in 1546 and occupied a distinctive place amongst the Great Turkish Admirals. On 14 May 1560, the Ottoman Navy under the command of Piyale Pasha, the Commander in Chief of the Navy, defeated the Crusader Fleet at Djerba. The Crusaders had come to capture Tripoli and oust the Turks from North Africa. Turgut Reis contributed considerably to the Victory of Djerba.

During this glorious century the Ottoman Navy was honored with many victories under the command of its eminent sailors Salih Reis, Aydın Reis, Murat Reis, Selman Reis, Seydi Ali Reis, Hasan Reis, Piyale Pasha and Kılıç Ali Pasha. The Ottoman battle ships asserted a powerful presence in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to maintain the Ottoman sovereignty and played a significant role as an instrument of foreign policy for the Ottoman Empire to accomplish its political objectives.

Seydi Ali Reis against the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean (9 August 1554) The successors of Süleyman the Magnificent could not conduct the maritime activities in the same triumphant manner. Incompetent pashas who had no knowledge of naval affairs were assigned Commander in Chief, simply because they had close relations with the palace. This caused a gradual deterioration of the Ottoman dominance of the seas.

The Ottomans, after Süleyman the Magnificent, proved unable to adapt to the changing conditions or to grasp the emerging technological assets of Europe, partly because they had failed to overcome the political and economic problems.

The Ottoman Navy lost two thirds of its ships in the Lepanto Naval Battle in 1571 against the Crusader Fleet, which had been built to conquer Cyprus. In this Battle, Uluç Ali Reis, the Governor of Algeria, who was the commander of the port wing of the Navy, managed to save his 40 ships through successful tactical manoeuvers. Uluç Ali Reis, in recognition of his bravery at Lepanto, was later named "Kılıç Ali Pasha" and assigned Commander in Chief by Selim II. Despite many difficulties, Kılıç Ali Pasha did his utmost till the end of his life to maintain the presence and dominance of the Ottoman Navy in the Mediterranean and died in 1587.

İnebahtı (Lepanto) Naval Battle (07 October 1571) The 17th century witnessed continuous struggles between the Ottomans and Venetians on Crete Island. Throughout that period, Ottoman rulers thought that they would reach political targets only by the armed forces. On the other hand, there was no strategic planning for utilizing sea force. Armed forces were deployed to the critical zone, launching overdue military campains. They ignored the sea force while capturing political aims, which caused having to face serious problems logistically. That also led to heavy land losses. In the late 17th and the early 18th centuries, the conversion of all ships to sailing vessels (galleons) had barely been completed when, in July 1770, the Ottoman Navy of 26 ships was completely defeated and destroyed by a surprise attack by the Russian Navy in Çeşme in Izmir. Heeding the warning of that defeat, Sultan Mustafa III decided to educate and train naval officers in contemporary techniques.

Baron de Tott, a French engineer, was employed to supervise the rehabilitation efforts of the Ottoman Navy. On 18 November 1773, the "Naval Engineering School", which was the core of today’s Naval Academy, was founded by Algerian Ghazi Hasan Pasha. That was not only the foundation of an ordinary school but it was the beginning of a period in which, for centuries, highly qualified statesmen and naval officers were to be educated and trained to serve the Turkish Nation. On 22 October 1784, the Naval Engineering School was renamed as the Imperial Naval Engineering College.

Koyun Islands Naval Battle (09 February 1695) In Europe by the end of the 18th century, ships equipped with steam propulsion began to be commissioned. As in the case of the conversion of ships to galleons, the Ottoman Navy only caught up with this innovation in the middle of the 19th century, a delay of almost half a century. In 1826, Sultan Mahmut II (1808-1839) disbanded the Janissary Corps. This eradication was known as the "Auspicious Event". The vision of the education and the style of the uniforms of the Ottoman Army as well as that of the Navy were renewed. At the same time several military personnel were sent abroad to be educated and trained. Within the framework of these innovations, the Naval High School was established in Heybeliada (One of the Princes’ Islands in Istanbul) in 1852.

Even while the reconstruction efforts of the Ottoman Army were underway, the Ottoman Navy continued to face some great disasters. On 20 October 1827, just one year after the demise of the Janissary Corps, the combined Ottoman-Egyptian Navy, which had been moored at the Navarino Harbor of Peloponnesus as a countermeasure against the Greek rebellions, was attacked by the combined naval squadrons of England, France and Russia, and lost 58 ships and 6000 sailors. At Navarino, the Ottoman State lost not only her Navy, but also most of her experienced sailors, for whom a great deal of education had been invested.

Mahmudiye the Legendary Galleon of the Crimean War and the Biggest Battelship of Her Era. Constructed at İstanbul Shipyard in 1929. The Crimean War (1853-1856) was the first war in history in which the Ottoman Empire allied itself with the Western States. On 30 November 1853, the Ottoman Navy was completely devastated by the surprise offensive action by the Russian Fleet at the Sinop Harbor on the coast of the Black Sea. That attack caused the Ottomans to lose a great number of ships and crew. Even though the galleon Mahmudiye and the other battleships of the Ottoman Navy performed bravely against the Russians, their efforts could not lessen the destructive effect of the Sinop Raid. By March 1854, England, France and the Ottoman State had formed a formal alliance against Russia.

The Crimean War demonstrated that the survival of the Ottoman Empire could not be preserved without a credible Navy.

This paved the way for the strengthening of the Ottoman Navy with armored ships and steamships. Sultan Abdülaziz (1861-1876) did his utmost to improve and modernize the Ottoman Navy. While he was in power, more than 100 ships (25 of them armored) were built at the İstanbul, İzmit, Gemlik and Mudanya Shipyards as well as at shipyards abroad.

 

In 1864, the Naval War College was founded in Kasımpaşa, İstanbul, for the purpose of educating officers to deal with command and staff duties. In 1867, in order to add to the significance of this crucial step, the title of Commander in Chief of the Navy was changed to Minister of the Navy; this title would last until 1922.

The Period of the Naval Ministry

During the reign of Abdülhamit II, the Ottoman Navy, which was regarded as one of the most powerful navies in the world at least in terms of quantity, was deactivated and kept at the Golden Horn for 33 years.

Reis Pasha (Admiral) 1867-1876 On 14 July 1909, the Naval Association was founded with the help of the Ottoman people to stop the continuing loss of territory caused by the absence of a powerful navy.

In parallel with the efforts of creating the financial resources to support the Navy, a committee under the presidency of an English sailor, Admiral Gamble, was tasked with investigating the world’s maritime innovations. This laid the foundations for the Ottoman Navy on contemporary and fundamental principles and developed a new doctrine for the education and training of its personnel. Just after the beginning of the World War I, in concert with the political inclination of the Empire, a committee from Germany was assigned to reorganize the Ottoman Navy.

That the ships of the navy were held at the Golden Horn for a long time, paralyzed the maritime activities of the Ottoman Empire. The first and the most distressing sign of that period was the tragic episode of the Ertuğrul. The frigate Ertuğrul was constructed at the İstanbul Shipyard in 1864. She sailed to Japan to pay a goodwill visit after an inoperative period of 13 years. On 18 September 1890, on her return voyage, she ran aground and sank in Japanese territorial waters. During that period, the whole Empire mourned for the tragedy which resulted in serious loss of life-of 533 sailors.

On 3 April 1890, the Naval Petty Officer Preparatory School was founded by the Minister of the Navy, Hasan Hüsnü Pasha. The training and education of the petty officers started onboard the Selimiye on 15 June 1890. Greece occupied Crete and the Ottoman-Greek War therefore started in 1897. The Ottoman Navy participated in the war with some of its components, but it failed to succeed due to its limited operational capabilities. Immediately after the failure of the Ottoman Navy in the Ottoman-Greek War, the Ministry of Navy was determined to repair some ships, which had served during the reign of Sultan Abdülaziz and to add new ships to its inventory. Therefore, the Ministry of Navy decided to procure a number of units. In 1903, a cruiser, named Hamidiye and 2 yachts named, the Ertuğrul and the Söğütlü were brought from England and a cruiser, Mecidiye, came from the US. In 1906, 2 torpedo cruisers named Berk-i Satvet and Peyk-i Şevket and also 4 destroyers named Taşoz, Basra, Samsun and Yarhisar were brought from Germany. Although it was an important attempt to strengthen the Navy, the newly transferred ships were kept at the Golden Horn.

Turgutreis Armoured Ship For this reason, this large procurement project did not yield concrete results since combat readiness was not achieved. When the Second Constitutional Monarchy was proclaimed on 23 July 1908, the Ottoman Navy was suffering seriously from the lack of operational efficiency as well as combat readiness. Moreover, the training and education of the naval personnel was not at a sufficient level at the time.

Hamidiye Cruiser After the dethroning of Abdulhamit II in 1909, some efforts were initiated to improve the standards of the Navy. On 14 July 1909, the Naval Association was founded with the help of the Ottoman people to stop ongoing loss of territory caused by the absence of a powerful navy. Thanks to the immense efforts of this Association, a considerable amount of money was collected and with those funds, the destroyers, Yadigar-ı Millet, Gayret-i Vataniye, Nümune-i Hamiyet and Muavenet-i Milliye and the armored battleships Barbaros Hayrettin and Turgutreis were transferred from Germany in 1910.

In parallel with the efforts of creating the financial resources to support the Navy, a committee under the presidency of an English sailor, Admiral Gamble, was tasked with investigating the world’s maritime innovations. This laid the foundations for the Ottoman Navy on contemporary and fundamental principles and developed a new doctrine for the education and training of its personnel. Just after the beginning of the World War I, in concert with the political inclination of the Empire, a committee from Germany was assigned to reorganize the Ottoman Navy.

The Ottoman Navy found itself in the middle of the Ottoman-Italian War (Tripoli, 1911-1912) while the restructuring efforts were underway. During this war, the main task of the Ottoman Navy was to defend the Çanakkale Strait as well as to project power by sea as the situation demanded.

Yavuz Battle Cruiser The War of Tripoli was followed by the Balkan War (1912-1913), and in that war the Ottoman Navy provided logistic support to the Ottoman Army by naval shipping while continuing the maintenance of its ships, In addition, the Ottoman Navy contributed to the defense of the Çatalca Line in Thrace as well as supporting the Army’s units with naval gunfire to interrupt the advance of the Bulgarian Army.

Executing raids over Greek Navy for about seven and a half months in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea, the cruiser Hamidiye under the command of Rauf Orbay took part in world naval history together with its fascinating success. Although highly successful operations by Hamidiye did not affect the result of the Balkan War, she evoked admiration around the world.

During the World War I, the Ottoman Navy served around the Black Sea in the Çanakkale Strait and The Ottoman Navy protected the maritime shipping in the Black Sea, destined for the Turkish Forces located in Eastern Anatolia and conducted surprise offensive action against some Russian cities at the Black Sea coast. She also secured coal transportation between İstanbul and Zonguldak. The speed advantage and firepower of the Yavuz Battle Cruiser considerably blocked the activities of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. The Ottoman Navy units, deployed to the Black Sea, kept the Russian Navy away from İstanbul Strait, thus prevented the Ottoman Forces stationed at Çanakkale from being threatened from the East.

(Nusret Mine Ship)Due to the powerful presence of the British and French Navies in the Aegean Sea, the activities by the Ottoman Navy were limited. The English and French were aiming to reach İstanbul through the Çanakkale Strait with their powerful navy, which was known as the “Invincible Armada.” They were going to be able to support their ally, Russia, and weaken the power and determination of the Ottoman Government. These events formed the beginning of a series of events, which would lead to the magnificent and renowned Çanakkale Naval Victory, which would take its glorious place in the pages of the noble and majestic Turkish Naval History.

Naval Battle Çanakkale (18 March 1915) In order to counter the preparations of the strategic strike by the Allied Navy, the Turkish Navy increased its activities and mobilized all of its remaining capabilities. On the morning of 8 March 1915, Nusret secretly sailed to the Karanlık Port, off the coast Erenköy, and laid 26 mines parallel to the shoreline. On 18 March 1915, the English Armoured Battleships, Irresistible and Ocean, and the French Bouvet armoured battleship sank. Gaulois, Suffren, Inflexible Armored Battleships suffered major damage and many of the other Armored Battleships inflicted serious damage due to heavy gunfire from our Shore Batteries. The Allied Navy not only suffered major losses when their ships hit mines laid by Nusret, but also lost a considerable amount of prestige within their countries. Having failed in penetrating the Çanakkale Strait, the Entente Powers attempted to reach their target through Gelibolu with an amphibious operation followed by a land operation between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916.

In this context, the Entente Powers planned a special naval operation and secretly transferred a large number of submarines to the Sea of Marmara in order to prevent the Ottoman Government from reinforcing the Çanakkale Front. With submarine nets and mine barriers that were set up at the narrow passes of the Çanakkale Strait, and the ships in the Sea of Marmara, the Ottoman Navy paralyzed the submarine operations of the Entente Powers.At the end of World War I, 7 English, 1 Australian and 5 French submarines were destroyed in the Sea of Marmara and the Çanakkale Strait, within the context of the Anti-Submarine Warfare Operation.

Sultanhisar Torpedo Boat The Sultanhisar Torpedo Boat neutralised the Australian AE-2 Submarine with its gun and torpedo attacks; Muavenet-i Milliye Destroyer sank the English Goliath Armored Battleship on the night of 13 May 1915; Corporal Gunner Müstecip shot the French Turquoıse Submarine’s periscope on 30 October 1915; all created great repercussions among the Turkish people and positively affected the overall morale and motivation of the Nation. During the battles, though, Barbaros Hayrettin Armored Battleship and Yarhisar Torpedo Boat were sunk by the English E-11 Submarine. Since the Entente Powers were not able to obtain the results they wanted, they decided to sustain the war from other fronts.

Midilli Cruiser As a result of an intelligence report, Yavuz and Midilli Battle Cruisers together with Muavenet-i Milliye, Basra and Samsun Destroyers sailed to the Aegean Sea through the Çanakkale Strait on 20 January 1918 to interrupt the Allied Convoy’s cruise from Thessaloníki to Palestine. Yavuz hit a mine off the coast of Gökçeada and was damaged. Following that, she was attacked by the British aircraft. While trying to avoid the attacks by evasive manoeuvres, she received further damage. At the same time, Midilli, which was passing through a mined area, received 5 mine wounds and sank. While Yavuz was on her way back to İstanbul, her homeport, in the Çanakkale Strait, off the coast Nara, she hit a third mine and ran aground, where she lay for six days and was constantly bombarded by the British aircraft. She was later rescued and towed to İstinye, İstanbul.Throughout the World War I, which lasted for 4 years, the relatively weak Ottoman Navy encountered great losses and came out of war extremely worn out. The control of the remaining ships was passed on to the Control Commission founded by the Entente Powers in accordance with the provisions of the Mondoros Armistice, signed on 30 October 1918.

3) The Turkish War Of Independence Era (1919-1922)

This period constitutes one of the most painful times of Turkish Maritime history, which is otherwise filled with glorious victories. Yet, despite all the adverse conditions that prevailed in the country, Turkish sailors never lost their patriotism. They had unshakable determination to support, serve, and defend their country against the occupiers. They loved their homeland passionately and cared very deeply for the Turkish people.

Naval Department Officers and Personnel(Ankara, 27 August, 1923)

Some sailors secretly traveled to Anatolia, surmounting all barriers to participate in land battles. Their comrades contributed to the strategic maritime struggle, particularly in the Black Sea and other regions. These were the key elements in raising the spirit of the Nation’s fighting forces and all were ready to sacrifice their possessions, shed their blood and give their lives for their country. Those sailors who remained in İstanbul during this time, founded the Undercover Navy Resistance Organization and provided personnel and equipment to the maritime elements of the National Government. They also gave invaluable intelligence support to the Armed Forces.

Following the decisions outlined in the Mondoros Treaty, the combat capabilities of the Turgutreis, Hamidiye and Mecidiye Cruisers were substantially limited and they were kept inactive in the Golden Horn by the occupying forces. The ammunition and guns of the Yavuz Battle Cruiser were removed and she was transferred to the İzmit region on the grounds that she could adversely affect sea traffic through the Golden Horn. During this period, only a small number of units were on active duty; the Akhisar and Draç Torpedo Boats performed coast guard duties in the Sea of Marmara, the Hızırreis Gunboat, in İzmir Bay was also on coast guard duty and the Nusret and Tir-i Müjkan conducted mine counter measures operations in the Saros Bay.

Naval Officers who Participated in the Turkish War of Independence Before the Turkish War of Independence began, the Naval Ministry sent Preveze gunboat to Sinop and Aydınreis Gunboat to Trabzon in February 1919 for surveillance, reconnaissance and patrol duties. However, a lack of coal to fuel the propulsion system ensured that the Preveze and Aydınreis remained in harbor until the end of 1919. During the early stages of the Turkish War of Independence, these 2 gunboats did not return to İstanbul, despite heavy pressure from the İstanbul Government. Instead, they were placed under the command of the National Government and formed the core of the Turkish War of Independence Shipping Fleet.

The Turkish War of Independence began to take shape in 1920. As the successes grew, the importance as well as the priority of the Western Front in winning an absolute victory became even greater. As a result, maintaining the logistic shipping of arms, ammunition and all kinds of equipment in the Black Sea gained vital importance. The formation of a maritime shipping organization in the Black Sea emerged as a crucial operational requirement.

Gazal Tugboat Therefore, on 10 July 1920, the Directorate of Naval Affairs was founded under the Ministry of National Defense and was charged with organizing and maintaining strategic logistic shipping through Black Sea and the other areas. All existing naval institutions in the country, directed by the National Government, were assigned to this Directorate. The Directorate of Naval Affairs was extremely successful in organizing local surface units and volunteers and in forming an intelligence network to discover the movements of the enemy ships. As a result, logistic transportation was carried out very smoothly and was expertly coordinated.

Founded in Ankara, The Turkish Grand National Assembly Government made an agreement with Russia to procure supplies. The Trabzon Shipping Detachment which was founded on 21 September 1920 was renamed "Trabzon Naval Shipping Command" with the directive issued by the Ministry of National Defense on 26 October 1920.In the subsequent stages of the Turkish War of Independence, due to the growing need for maritime shipping and the increase in the quantity and quality of the units and small ships, the Directorate of Naval Affairs was extended. On 1 March 1921, this organization was renamed the "Naval Department Directorate" and Trabzon Naval Shipping Command, Samsun Naval Detachment, Karadeniz Ereğli Naval Command, Amasra Naval Detachment, İzmit Naval Command, Eğirdir Lake Naval Detachment and Fethiye Naval Reserve Group were all entered into that Directorate's service.

Samsun Naval Headquarters(1920) In response to the growing importance of maritime shipping activities in the Sea of Marmara and to defend the gulf of İzmit, the İzmit Naval Command was founded on 28 June 1921. İzmit Naval Command maintained maritime shipping in the area as well as contributing greatly to land transportation by repairing the railroad bridges damaged during World War I.

The Samsun Naval Command, which was founded by naval officers on 1 January 1921, was particularly active in meeting the conscript needs of the other units and was very effective in transferring trained sailors to these units. This Command also fought against the Greco-Pontus Gangs.

The Amasra Naval Command concentrated on reconnaissance and surveillance activities at the western parts of the Black Sea and, when the opportunity arose, engaged hostile units from time to time.

On 17 April 1921 in Ereğli, the Karadeniz Ereğli Naval Shipping Command was founded. Its mission was to conduct maritime shipping between İstanbul and Akçakoca and Trabzon and Akçakoca as well as to provide logistic and base support to the transportation ships and vehicles in its area of responsibility. This command also kept records of military goods transported at the western Black Sea and reported daily to the Naval Department Directorate.

Alemdar Tugboat The Fethiye Naval Reserve Group and Port Masters, which was established on 16 March 1921, carried out coastguard and transportation duties as well as gathering intelligence in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean regions. This Detachment was highly successful in moving supplies from Antalya over the Eğirdir Lake. These countrywide logistic support activities were conducted with great success as a result of the exceptional approach and meticulous planning by the Naval Department Directorate.

The ships and the other small vessels serving in the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara faced many obstacles; they were old and slow, not provided with necessary base support and, perhaps of greater concern, they continuously sailed unescorted. Yet, all of those negative conditions, the ships created miracles and maintained the flow of maritime shipping with an innate sense of responsibility, courage and self-sacrifice.

During the Turkish War of Independence, Turkish Naval Forces was charged with organizing and maintaining strategic logistic shipping through the Black Sea and the other areas. Throughout the Turkish War of Independence, 300,000 tons of supplies of every kind were transported to the Turkish Harbors, particularly from the Russian Black Sea Ports by ships and boats of various sizes, to support the military fronts in Anatolia. Also, despite the counter-action by the enemy, a group of heroic sailors made it possible to secretly transport ammunitions and supplies from İstanbul to İnebolu, Samsun, Yalova, Karamürsel and İzmit through maritime lines.

Today’s Turkish Navy remembers those heroes with the utmost respect. Besides the major efforts and sacrifices of the Turkish warships, the heroism of the Alemdar Tugboat also constitutes one of the most illustrious sources of pride for Turkish seamanship. Alemdar, despite the forbidding presence of hostile warships, sailed to Ereğli under the pretext of salvaging a needy ship. Subsequently seized by the French, the Alemdar's crew heroically managed to re-seize control on 9 February 1921, while the French were making plans to take the ship back to İstanbul. The crew deliberately ran her aground. Later, the Alemdar sailed to Trabzon and gave extraordinary and vital service to the Anatolian Fleet.

Bandırma steamer, which carried Mustafa Kemal Atatürk to Samsun from İstanbul at the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence, also wrote its name to the pages of the glorious Turkish History. Atatürk proclaimed his views about the actions of the Naval Forces of the time as follows:

"Despite the enemy blockade and inadequate maritime vehicles, Turkish sailors have created miracles in the Black Sea with a small number of ships and maintained maritime shipping without any losses, which certainly deserves commendation"

4) Navy Ministry Period (1924-1928)

The Turkish Navy received a fairly small number of ships from the Ottoman Government, which were limited in mobility. Most of those ships were kept immobilized at the Golden Horn throughout the Turkish War of Independence. The Yavuz Battle Cruiser, which was taken to İzmit on the formal request of the Control Commission on the grounds that it was adversely affecting maritime traffic, was towed to Tuzla from İzmit during the Turkish War of Independence by the British.

Yavuz Battle Cruiser With Mudanya Armistice signed on 11 October 1922, the Navy Ministry building in Kasımpaşa became the headquarters for the İstanbul Navy Command on 14 November 1922. Preparations were made to carry out the maintenance and overhaul of small-tonnage warships (Burakreis, Sakız, İsareis and Kemalreis Gunboats and 3 Taşoz Class destroyers.) and to make them combat-ready. Thus, the Hamidiye Cruiser, which was planned to be employed as a Cadet Training Ship, was overhauled.

Due to the fact that the Lausanne Treaty required the control of the Straits Region by a Special Committee, a naval base was to be constructed in the Sea of Marmara and various feasibility studies were conducted to determine the most suitable location in the Gulf of İzmit. In 1923, the Marmara Naval Base and Kocaeli Fortified Area Command was founded in İzmit.

A French school building, which had previously served as a church, was bought and used as the headquarters building for this command. The İzmit Navy Command was annexed to Marmara Naval Base and the Kocaeli Fortified Area Command. The İzmir Navy Command HQ was founded at a building at Konak in İzmir, following the Turkish War of Independence. This Command dealt with the security and defense of the Gulf of İzmir. The Mine Detachment, Fortified Area Naval Troops, Uzunada Signal Station, Repair Facilities as well as the Naval Air Company, were all assigned to the İzmir Navy Command.

The Fleet Command conducted its activities in a small section in the İstanbul Navy Command building. This Command dealt particularly with the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the ships that were all almost out of service. After the foundation of the modern Turkish Republic, Atatürk embarked on his Black Sea Voyage from 11 to 21 September 1924 with the first ship of the Republican Fleet to sail: the Hamidiye Cruiser. On 20 September 1924, he wrote the following in the ship’s Book of Honor:

Autographed Photograph Atatürk Presented to the Hamidiye Cruiser on 20 September 1924 The Hamidiye Cruiser was the first ship from the old Navy at the service of the modern Turkish Republic. It is this ship that has given me the opportunity to experience the life at sea that I have been longing for 5 years. I have had the chance of getting to know the high level officers and the staff of the Turkish Fleet on this ship and aboard the escorting Peyk-İ Şevket Torpedo Cruiser.

The young spirited Commanders and Officers whom I contacted, with their young ideals, have inspired strong hopes in me for the Navy. We should not be content with leaving this valuable, strongly eager crew with this old ship whose memory has become a part of the past. To encourage them to reach the level of today’s modern fleets, which they deserve, all contemporary systems and methods must be put to use.

As the sea is an important and vital part of the borders of the Turkish Republic, the Navy of the Turkish Republic must also be important and great. Only then, will the Turkish Republic be confident and secure. To possess an excellent and powerful Turkish Fleet is our goal. Rather than acquiring warships at this stage, our starting point for such a Fleet should be to train commanders, officers and specialists who can successfully command, lead and control these warships. The comrades I have met onboard the Hamidiye and Peyk-İ Şevket are valuable living evidence that we can accomplish this goal.

For the time being, this elite, distinguished group will be preserved with great care. Of our ships, only those that can be utilized should be restored. I have the impression from the naval officers in the fleet that it is possible to form a modest but balanced Fleet from both the active and inactive but equally useful elements of the Navy.

Therefore, to realize this, I will personally be involved with the measures and efforts of the Republican Government regarding the subject. It will most certainly be possible to strive for and accomplish that magnificent goal, once a fundamental and valuable starting point is reached."

Gazi Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK

Following his Black Sea voyage, on 1 November 1924, ATATÜRK expressed the utmost importance he attached on the Republican Fleet during the Inauguration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly ;

"Gentlemen!

Reconstructing and improving the Navy must be seriously considered. The starting point should be educating and training the distinguished navy personnel in a manner in which they deserve. They must be employed to meet the pressing needs of the country and not to spend time on dreams and the unrealistic objectives that are beyond the current power of the country."Great Leader ATATÜRK onboard HAMİDİYE (20 September 1924)

A genius like ATATÜRK was fully aware of the fact that a naval force which required an extremely substantial investment in time and money could not be created in a short period. For this reason, he believed that a Special Organization should be formed to improve the existing Republican Fleet and plan its future in the best possible fashion. Following ATATÜRK’s clear and unstinting support, the Navy Ministry Law was passed by the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 30 December 1924 following Kastamonu Deputy Ali Rıza Bey’s proposal. The Navy Ministry functioned as an entity, separate from the National Defense Ministry, and was affiliated to the Turkish General Staff in the fields of education, inspection as well as training and exercises.

The view from Yavuz Cruiser ( İzmit, 23 October 1924) The priority of the Navy Ministry was to form the core of the Turkish Republican Fleet, while giving due attention to the economic condition of the country. Within this context, the Navy Ministry took determined and purposeful steps in basing the development of the Turkish Naval Forces on a long-term program. In the beginning, instead of procuring new ships from abroad, the complete overhaul of the existing units was addressed. To start with, an agreement was signed with a French company for the overhaul of the Yavuz Battle Cruiser. However, due to the lack of a floating dock large enough for the purpose, the decision was made to have a German company build an appropriate facility, prior to the overhaul of the Yavuz by the French company. Indeed, it was in meeting Yavuz’s docking needs that the Turkish Naval Forces’ close association with Gölcük began. In cooperation with the German Flender Co, who constructed the floating dock in Gölcük, various repair workshops, shelters, battery and mine factories were built and activated.

Chief of Turkish General Staff Marshal Fevzi Çakmak Visiting Gölcük (11 October 1926) Without doubt, as the first repair facilities of the Turkish Navy in Gölcük, these facilities possessed historical value. More new facilities were built in the following years. With the modernization projects, the area which had previously consisted of large swampland, a lake and hazelnut fields was turned into the splendid and magnificent establishment that houses the Poyraz Pier and Gölcük Shipyard today. Since the Laussane Treaty required disarming of the Straits Region, the infrastructures belonging to the Naval Forces in İstinye on the coast of the İstanbul Strait and at the Golden Horn, were transferred to Gölcük. In this period, Gölcük was designated as the main Naval Base.

In parallel with those efforts, special importance was given to the education and training of the Navy’s Personnel. Technical manuals in various subjects were prepared, and the first steps towards institutionalization were taken. Furthermore, the Turkish Navy kept in constant touch with the Navies of modern foreign countries in order to keep abreast of advances in the field. Subsequently, a contract prescribing the construction of 2 submarines was signed with the Netherlands. Although the Navy Ministry was disbanded on 27 December 1927, its important role in turning the ideal of a powerful and contemporary Turkish Navy into a reality, is even more evident today. This period also helps demonstrating the fact that, the Turkish Navy’s capabilities can only advance with the help of administrators who have an in-depth knowledge of maritime affairs and who "know and understand" the sea. The development and evolution of the Turkish Naval Forces had therefore progressed steadily and confidently after the formation of Navy Ministry.

5) Naval Undersecreteriat Period (1928-1949)

Welcome Ceremony Held for Atatürk onboard ADATEPE Destroyer (27 July 1933) The Naval Undersecreteriat was founded in January 1928 and assigned to the Ministry of National Defense in 1928 by the Turkish General Staff (TGS). With this new reorganization, the Turkish Fleet Command was put under the command of the TGS in terms of administration and logistics.

At that time, the Turkish Navy conducted its activities in Gölcük with the following ships: the Yavuz, Turgutreis, Hamidiye and Mecidiye Cruisers, the Peyk-i Şevket and Berk-i Satvet Torpedo Cruisers and the Samsun, Basra and Taşoz Destroyers. Built in the Netherlands, I. İnönü and II. İnönü Submarines which reflected the excitement and enthusiasm of the Turkish War of Independence joined the Turkish Navy in 1928.

On 2 November 1930, the Naval War College commenced training and education of Staff Officers at its facilities in the Yıldız Palace. The Italian-built Adatepe, Kocatepe, Tınaztepe and Zafer Destroyers; the Dumlupınar, Sakarya Submarines and the Martı, Denizkuşu and Doğan Fast Attack Crafts joined the Republican Fleet in 1931. In 1933, with the approval of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Gölcük was designated as the main base of the Turkish Navy. In the same year, the first ship built at the Gölcük Shipyard, the Gölcük tanker, was laid down, and launched the following year.

After the completion of its overhaul period in 1930, the Yavuz Battle Cruiser served as the Turkish Navy’s Flagship until 1950, becoming the symbol of the magnificent power of the Turkish Republic at the seas. A number of Heads of State and high-level foreign officials were received onboard this ship.

Turkish Navy at Malta ( November 1936) With the signing of the Montreaux Convention in 1936, Turkey’s sovereignty over the Turkish Straits was guaranteed and secured at international level. In the days following the signing of this agreement, Fortified Area Commands were founded in the İstanbul and Çanakkale Straits and newly established Naval Detachments were assigned to those Commands.

On the eve of the outbreak of World War II, the Turkish Navy’s strength was at a considerably high level. In 1939, 4 Destroyers, 4 submarines and 2 minelayers had been ordered from England. In the same year, the German-built SALDIRAY-(I) Submarine was commissioned into the Turkish Navy. The ATILAY-(I) and YILDIRAY-(I) Submarines, built at the Taşkızak shipyard and named by the Great Leader ATATÜRK, were launched. The submarine BATIRAY was seized by the German Navy in September 1939, because of the imminence of the War. For security reasons, the Naval Schools moved to Mersin from İstanbul during World War II and the education and training activities were conducted there.

During the War, on 23 June 1941, while she was sailing from Mersin to Alexandria, the REFAH Cargo Ship, which was carrying the personnel of 4 submarines and 20 Army Academy Cadets who were sent to England for training, sank after hitting a torpedo launched from an unknown submarine. A great number of personnel were martyred in this sad event.

On 14 July 1942, while conducting underwater research operations, the ATILAY submarine struck a mine left from World War I and sank. This unfortunate event resulted in the loss of 39 sailors. In the dark and gloomy days when World War II brought agony, terror and distress to the world, these 2 unfortunate events deeply saddened and shocked the Turkish Nation.

The modernization and reorganization efforts of the Turkish Navy gained momentum after the end of World War II. As a result, major progress was made in defining new goals and targets. Here, there was a significant increase in the number of surface ships and submarines procured from the United States. Important projects in training, personnel and logistics were realized and major steps towards today’s modern, able and mighty Turkish Navy were taken.

6) Naval Forces Command Era (1949-...)

Atılay Submarine was struck by a submarine in Çanakkale Strait on 14 July 1942.) The Turkish Naval Forces were represented under the title of the Naval Undersecreteriat at the Turkish General Staff Headquarters from 1928 to 1949. The historic decree of the Higher Military Council dated 15 August 1949, led to the foundation of the Turkish Naval Forces Command. This new organizational structure constituted one of the major milestones towards a powerful, contemporary and modern Navy. From this date on, the Naval Forces fully embraced naval power and utilized the available resources in the most rational way to grow steadily with resolve. The Turkish Naval Forces closely follows all developments in the world and takes safe and determined steps towards a better, stronger and more glorious future.

After becoming a member of NATO on 18 February 1952, the Turkish Naval Forces began to have closer relations with the navies of the NATO allies. The Turkish Navy further developed its organizational background, educational doctrine and capabilities, and proved itself capable of carrying out all types of operations to NATO’s standards. In this period, on 4 April 1953, the submarine Dumlupınar II(D-6) collided with the Swedish Freighter Naboland, resulting in the loss of 81 submariners. This unfortunate event caused great grief and distress for the Turkish Naval Forces and the Turkish Nation. This sad event formed an emotional bridge between the Turkish Nation and the Turkish sailors. Many songs were composed and poems written for the sailors who, until last breath, dedicated their lives to their country.

In 1961, in order to fulfill growing needs of the Naval Forces, the Naval Forces Command was organized into 4 main subordinate commands. These were Turkish Fleet Command, Turkish Northern Sea Area Command, Turkish Southern Sea Area Command and Turkish Naval Training Command. In 1995, The Turkish Naval Training Command was renamed the "Turkish Naval Training and Education Command."

When the Cyprus conflict became one of the major issues in Turkey’s agenda, various probability analysis results pointed to the necessity of forming and maintaining a powerful Amphibious Group. In parallel with these developments, the production of amphibious vehicles in Turkey was prioritized and plans were made for the procurement of tank landing craft from abroad. Despite Turkey’s extremely positive attitude and countless warnings, the violent behaviour of the Greeks on the Island, which became serious human rights violations, forced Turkey to conduct an amphibious operation in Cyprus.

Amphibious operations were considered to be the most difficult type of military operations. The Turkish Navy proved that it deserved the undying confidence of the noble Turkish nation by displaying excellence in accomplishing such a challenging operation in 1974.

As a result of the Turkish Navy’s major and critical role in the Cyprus conflict, amphibious and army units were landed on the island safely. During the operation, the Turkish Navy not only successfully interrupted sea lines of communications to prevent reinforcement of Greek Forces on the Island, but also provided Turkish Land and Amphibious Forces on the island with naval gunfire support. As a whole, it should be emphasized that the Turkish Navy played a determining role in achieving military and political objectives of the operation. Unfortunately, during the Cyprus Peace Operation, 67 personnel of the Turkish Navy were martyred and, on 21 July 1974, Kocatepe (D-354) was lost.

Turkish Naval Ships participating in Cyprus Peace Operation on the way to YAVUZ Beach (19 July 1974) Turkish Naval Ships participating in Cyprus Peace Operation on the way to YAVUZ Beach (19 July 1974)

The 1980s were the years in which the Turkish Navy’s development pace during the Republican Period was at its peak. During those years numerous modernization projects were realized. Important steps were taken towards attaining the Turkish Navy’s aim of not being dependent on a single provider for warfare weapons and equipment. The 1000-tonned "AY" Class submarine, which was built at the Gölcük Shipyard, constituted one of the major milestones of the Turkish Navy’s development process. Furthermore, TCG Fatih was the first modern frigate to be built at the Gölcük Shipyard in 1980 and with the success of these highly demanding and prestigious projects, the Gölcük Naval Shipyard was justifiably placed amongst the distinguished shipyards in the international arena.

 

Although some of its capabilities were not be able to be caught up with the desired level in the 1980’s, the Turkish Naval Forces progressed substantially in the 1990s and became a true Blue Water Navy. The Turkish Navy’s combat readiness and operational capabilities were considerably improved during those years. In this period, major developments took place in combined operations conducted in coordination with the Land and Air Forces. Combined operation capabilities with the Air Force in blue waters, including the Middle and Eastern Mediterranean, were also further improved. One of the most important developments of this period was the construction of the Aksaz Naval Base at the strategic meeting point of the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean. Without doubt, this base provided Turkish naval units and those of its allies and friendly countries with maximum support in almost every field.

By those experiences the Turkish Naval Forces reached the level to design and construct warships using national capabilities at its component shipyards. Based upon the principle of utilizing entirely national designs and domestic capabilities at a maximum level, the project MİLGEM's products TCG HEYBELİADA (F-511) and TCG BÜYÜKADA (F-512) were launched on 27 September 2011 and on 27 September 2013 respectively. In the same year the first step to construct TCG BURGAZADA, the third ship of MİLGEM Project, was initiated.  Thanks to experience gained from the project’s first ships, it is planned to be launced on April 2006,one year before the contract date of delivery. On the other hand, modern surface and submarine platforms are under construction at Gölcük and İstanbul Shipyards. The fourth ship of project “ KINALIADA” construction was initiated on 8 October 2015. It will be launched in 2015 and commenced service in 2020. 

The first sihp built within the AMFIBI PROJECT was launched on 3 October 2015. TUZLA class patrol boats, may be regarded as "naval battle ships", have been also constructed at civilian shipyards, parallel to other platforms.

From Somali to Japan, from Gibraltar to Panama, from the North Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, the Turkish Naval Forces, as one of the most respected, powerful and capable navies in the Mediterranean, has flown and will continue to fly the glorious Turkish flag on the high seas with great honor and pride, The Turkish Navy continues following the shining and intuitive course drawn by the great leader ATATÜRK. With the limitless strength that it receives from the great love and trust of the proud Turkish Nation, the Turkish Navy will always defend the vital rights and benefits of Turkey and her nation with unshakable determination.

The Republican Era is a period of vigorous progress for the Turkish Naval Forces. By utilizing its resources and motivated by its deep rooted and well-respected history, Turkey has ensured that its Naval Forces have achieved a contemporary, powerful and modern force structure. The Turkish Navy will continue to cooperate closely with all other maritime branches in the country and strive with all its power to make sure that Turkey remains a Maritime Nation of the 21st century.

 

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Updated : 25-11-2015