Turkey has sent a frigate to monitor the West Capella ship that is thought to have started drilling activities to search for oil and gas off Cyprus, the Turkish military said in a statement on Thursday.
The Turkish Armed Forces is watching the ship, and the frigate TCG Gökçeada (formerly USS Mahlon S. Tisdale) has been entrusted with the mission of observing the Greek Cypriot West Capella frigate, the Turkish statement says.
According to a report in the electronic version of the Greek daily To Vima, the US aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush is sailing near the drilling area.
By midday Thursday, the aircraft carrier was sailing northwest of the drilling rig, within the Nicosia FIR and the Cyprus EEZ, always at a relatively close distance from the rig, the report says.
It is not clear whether the carrier is deployed to avert escalating tensions in the region, or whether it has a different mission perhaps relating to the war in Syria.
The announcement for the deployment of the Turkish frigate comes a few hours after the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, threatened that Turkey “will take action” against the Cypriot drilling activities.
He added that Turkey’s energy and foreign ministries are working together to plan steps against the Greek side’s “unilateral” steps, adding that sending a drilling vessel showed the Greek side’s “insincerity” about reunification talks that failed last week.