Turkey on Wednesday launched a massive military exercise in the Aegean, the Black Sea and the the Eastern Mediterranean which the official Anadolu News Agency dubbed “the largest navy drill in its history.”
The four-day drill, dubbed “Blue Homeland 2019,” includes thirteen frigates, six corvettes, sixteen assault boats, seven submarines, seven mine-hunting vessels, and fourteen patrol boats, as well as other navy vessels.
The drill, coordinated by the Naval War Center Command, was planned six months in advance in line with NATO rules and regulations, says the Anadolu press agency.
The “Blue Homeland” exercise comes during a period of heightened tensions in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, as Turkey plans to dispatch a second drilling ship to areas around Cyprus later this week.
Last week, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the country’s foreign minister, said that Turkey will begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus in the near future.
“Let those who come to the region from far away, and their companies, see that nothing can be done in that region without us. Nothing at all can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey, we will not allow that,” Cavusoglu declared.
Turkey has made clear its intentions to drill in areas to the west of the island, in defiance of protests from the Cypriot government and its allies.