Walvis Bay - Last week saw the flock of the public to the Port of Walvis Bay, to witness the Barbaros Turkish Maritime Task Group (Barbaros TMTG) make its first stop in Namibia.
In a 24-country visit itinerary, Barbaros TMTG comprises four ships.
During Barbaros TMTG’s port visits, under the co-ordination of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Health, Turkish Co-operation and Co-ordination Agency and Under Secretariat for Defence Industries, the team conducts humanitarian assistance activities, such as basic physical examinations and healthcare trainings, food, school and medical supply distributions and exhibitions of Turkish defence industry products.
“With this Walvis Bay port visit, we hope to improve Turkish-Namibian bilateral relations. We have brought with us symbolic amounts of food and educational material, as a sign of good will,” said Lieutenant (Lt) Ilker Avci.
Lt. Avci also said they visit local military authorities, open their ships to visitors and conduct receptions and formal luncheons.
The Barbaros TMTG also plans to execute a live missile and gunnery firings in neighbouring South Africa, about which Lt. Avci remained coy, although saying the process will be well-guided in the Denel Overberg test range in South Africa.
Of the four ships meant to dock at the Port of Walvis Bay, only one turned up.
“Our second frigate named ‘Orucreis’ and ‘National Corvette Heybeliada’ initially scheduled for a Walvis Bay port visit were forced to proceed to South Africa, due to adverse weather conditions. The fourth ship of the Task Group, fleet Oiler YB. Kudret Gungor is also on its way to South Africa,” Avci added.
Nevertheless, Lt. Avci exclusively told The Villager his team is happy with the turn of events in the 14, including amongst others Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, which it has visited so far.
“The response in other countries has been overwhelming and so has Namibia’s, so far,” the lieutenant said at arrival at the Port last Thursday.
The first circumnavigation of Africa by Turks dates back to 1866. Then, two Ottoman Corvettes, Bursa and Izmir, while on their way to Persian Gulf, departed from Istanbul in July 1866, conducted port calls to Rio de Janeiro that August and to Cape Town in September. Finally, they reached the Persian Gulf in December the same year.
Since then, Barbaros TMTG will be the first Turkish Naval unit to sail through the Cape of Good Hope. Their objectives, among others, are to improve current relations Turkey has with African nations and to establish new ones. This is to contribute to the safety of sea lines of communication, as well as support the nations’ capacity-building efforts in maritime security.
“We have already accomplished one of our objectives by participating in the Obangame Express exercise in the bay of Guinea. Additionally, the Task Group will support anti-piracy efforts by participating in the ongoing operations in the Gulf of Aden,” explained Lt. Avci.
The group was in Namibia from 1st to 3rd of May. With a programme spanning for 102 days, covering a distance of 15 000 miles, the group’s next stop is South Africa.