Crisis in the Turkish Navy: “Some are attempting suicide, others have resigned from the navy”

Turkish Navy staff have been quarantined at sea on ships for eight months due to the pandemic, sparking an angry reaction from their families.

“Their psychology has been disturbed. There are people who have resigned, others who are considering bankruptcy and others who have tried to commit suicide,” said someone whose loved one is stuck on a Turkish ship.

“If I describe them to you in detail, you will not be able to fit it on one page. My son was eight and a half months old when his father left. At the moment he believes that my phone is his father,” added the unnamed person to Aynur Tekin of Duvar.

The Turkish Navy personnel, as part of the measures to deal with COVID-19 from March until now, have cut all ties with the land. The friends and families of the sailors who have not docked at any port for 8 months and did not get off the ship, are outraged against this situation.

Relatives of sailors who want their voice to be heard are calling for the Turkish Ministry of National Defense to return of sailors to land.

Mobile phones are the only link the Navy personnel to the outside world. But communication by phone is quite limited. The unnamed woman whose husband has been on the ship for 8 months, states that “As they are in areas far from ports, most of the time the phone does not pick up. And when I get on the ship’s phone, we can talk for limited minutes.”


It is reported that due to quarantine, some Turkish sailors and their families are experiencing psychological problems. According to the relatives of the staff detained on the ships due to quarantine conditions, there are some who have resigned, some who are considering going bankrupt and some who have tried to commit suicide.

Another unnamed person told Duvar that their friend has been on the ship since March.

“They have forgotten to live outside. We hear them cry secretly when they speak. They are angry and most importantly they feel excluded and forgotten. If the virus lasts for years, will these people stay on the ships for years? We want an answer to that,” the person said.

A Turkish woman said that her husband has been in the navy for 8 years and said “Yes he does not have COVID-19, but his psychological health is in very bad. Sometimes he calls and for 4-5 minutes he is silent, they even forgot to talk”.

Another woman who is obliged to take care of her five-month-old child alone, states that due to the ambiguity with her husband’s situation, she is under pressure from her family to get a divorce.

“My baby cannot see his father. My family tells me ‘Divorce, my daughter, he will not come anymore.’ It is as if my husband is in prison and he will not come, we have lost so much hope,” she said.

When families try to ask the authorities how long the quarantine will last, they cannot get a clear answer. On the other, this situation may endanger quarantined personnel on board ships.

Turkish Navy ship.
Turkish ship in quarantine.

Another woman described the following:

“I made a request to CIMER about when this situation would end and that my husband suffered a lot. They told him phrases like ‘Do not hide in your wife’s skirt’.”

Another person told Duvar that the situation for the Turkish sailors is unbearable and states the following:

“It is very difficult to deal with the ambiguity. At first I was calmer but now I am treating anxiety. My husband’s mother underwent serious surgery and he did not even have the opportunity to come and see her. And since the period of compulsory service has not been completed, he does not have the possibility to resign. But if he’s gone for a few more months, he will go bankrupt. Accepting both the fine and the punishment and unemployment. I accept them too.”

The sailors’ relatives are asking for the quarantine to end and for the sailors to return their normality.


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