The Turkish Navy will launch TCG Istanbul, its first indigenously designed and produced frigate, today. The I-class vessel is the
The Turkish Navy will launch TCG Istanbul, its first indigenously designed and produced frigate, today.
The I-class vessel is the first of its kind to be produced under Turkey’s MILGEM project to produce indigenous warships. The MILGEM project is considered a cornerstone of Turkey’s expansionist Blue Homeland doctrine, which claims that Turkey is the rightful owner of all waters surrounding the country stretching to the median line of the Aegean Sea—waters internationally recognized as Greek. This declaration has led to Turkish maritime drilling and live-fire exercises off the northeastern coast of Cyprus which Greece sees as a direct provocation.
The launch of the Istanbul marks the first major launch since last year’s escalation of tensions. Critics warn that this move could spark a naval arms race between the two Mediterranean neighbors. Expect increased Greek naval exercises in the Eastern Mediterranean to demonstrate Greek capabilities, while the Turkish Navy is likely to respond in kind. NATO leadership has expressed concern about the rising tensions between Turkey and Greece. Germany, in particular, has worried about the possibility of a direct confrontation and will likely volunteer to host any upcoming negotiations to avoid open conflict.