The Turkish Naval Forces Command is providing full protection to Turkish drilling vessels operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, the country's National Defense Ministry said yesterday.
On Twitter, the ministry shared video footage shot by a drone showing a Turkish drilling vessel escorted by a corvette, an assault boat and a domestically-made Bayraktar Tactical Block 2 (TB2) armed drone.
The ministry stated that country's drillships are provided full protection both on the surface and under water, saying that protective drones, planes, helicopters, corvettes, frigates, and submarines are ready to engage if necessary at any time.
The video's release comes against the backdrop of Turkey asserting its own rights and the rights of Turkish Cyprus to search for natural resources in the Eastern Mediterranean in the face of European intransigence and challenges, including threats to arrest the crews of Turkish drillships.
Turkey has made continuous efforts to protect its sovereign rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the Eastern Mediterranean region, where it has been drilling in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which was registered with the United Nations in 2004.
It has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to resources in the area.
Since this spring, Ankara has sent two drilling vessels – the Fatih and most recently the Yavuz – to the Eastern Mediterranean, asserting the rights of Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to the resources of the region.
The Turkish-flagged drillship Fatih launched its offshore drilling operations on May 3 in an area located 75 kilometers off the western coast of Cyprus. The area falls entirely within the Turkish continental shelf registered with the U.N. and in permit licenses that the Turkish government granted to Turkish Petroleum in 2009 and 2012.
The second Turkish drillship, the Yavuz, arrived south of Karpas Peninsula on the eastern edge of the island recently and is expected to launch drilling operations soon. Yavuz will operate on behalf of Turkish Cypriots within the areas granted by the TRNC to the Turkish Petroleum in 2011.
Turkey's first seismic vessel, the Barbaros Hayreddin Paşa, has been carrying out exploration in the Mediterranean since April 2017.
Ankara has recently said it will increase its activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and send a fourth ship to the region. Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fatih Dönmez recently said the national seismic exploration vessel Oruç Reis will be sent to the Mediterranean within the next month to conduct seismic research for oil and gas around Cyprus after completing its current activities in the Marmara Sea.