The floating drilling rig Abdülhamid Han is heading for the Yörükler-1 site, located 55 kilometres south of the Gazi Paşa region in southern Turkey, as announced by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday.
Erdoğan was in the area in front of the drilling rig, where he made his speech. A little earlier, in a show of power, he flew the presidential aircraft over the ship, also posting a related photo on Twitter.
The Turkish president called Abdülhamid Han a symbol of Ankara in the energy sector. Turkey, he noted, has a "rare" drilling fleet in the world, with the vessels Fatih, Kanuni, Yavuz and Abdülhamid Han.
According to Erdogan, Turkey is in the gas exploration area with its four drilling vessels and two seismic survey vessels.
The rig is headed for the Mediterranean, where according to the president, Turkey is carrying out exploration and drilling operations in areas "within its jurisdiction".
"We don't need anyone's permission for this," he said. And he went on to emphasise that "we will send the ship Abdülhamid Han the Yörükler-1 deposit, 55 kilometres outside Gazi Pasha. The Yörükler-1 well is the first step of our comprehensive business plan in the Eastern Mediterranean."
Watch video of the ceremony:
The Turkish president inspected the drilling rig and after discussing with officials, the fiesta for its departure began.
The Turkish President said that his country is now one of the few countries on the planet that can drill on its own: "we have a unique fleet and with the proper preparations we drilled in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea."
"It is not easy to find deposits, but the more we look, the more likely we are to discover. We will present the final results of drilling in the Black Sea by 2023," he added.
After the ceremony, Turkey issued the NAVTEX for Abdülhamid Han. The ship will be in the area until October 7. Three more ships will accompany the ship.
The Turkish Navtex
TURNHOS N/W : 0770/22 (Antalya NAVTEX Station) (Published Date: 09-08-2022 15:16)
TURNHOS N/W : 0770/22
1. DRILLING OPERATIONS, BY ABDÜLHAMİD HAN, HAKAN İLHAN, KUTSİ İLHAN AND MURAT İLHAN BETWEEN 09 AUG-07 OCT 22 IN YÖRÜKLER-1 AREA BOUNDED BY;
36 03.87 N - 031 54.26 E
36 05.88 N - 031 54.23 E
36 05.90 N - 031 56.70 E
36 03.90 N - 031 56.73 E
10 NM. WIDE BERTH REQUESTED.
2. CANCEL THIS MESSAGE 072059Z OCT 22.
At the same time, the Greek side appears to maintain an attitude of calmness but also of waiting, while avoiding to play the game of the Turks through an escalation of its rhetoric in view of Abdülhamid Han's exit, maintaining, however, the readiness of the Armed Forces at a high level.
Already a large part of the fleet is outside Naustatmos, while according to sources, special orders have been given to the submarines and especially to the modern type-214 "Papanikolis", which are moving with full combat load in the areas of the Greek Exclusive Economic Zone.
At the Ministry of National Defence, several meetings have been held in recent days with the aim of examining the scenarios and Greece's operational response in the field, should the Turkish drilling rig and its escort vessels choose to move within the Greek EEZ, south of Crete or the Dodecanese.
Moreover, the fact that this particular ship does not simply carry out surveys but carries a drill, is in itself an escalation against our country from the side of Turkey.
In essence, the Abdülhamid Han comes as a continuation of the investigations carried out two years ago by Oruc Reis in the area, when for more than three months it moved within the Greek EEZ from Rhodes and Karpathos to the Megistis complex, with Greece and Turkey on the verge of heated confrontation.
A few days ago, the representative of the Turkish presidency, İbrahim Kalın, compared Abdülhamid Han to Oruc Reis, in a statement sufficiently provocative for Greece and Cyprus, given the reference to the hot summer of 2020.
"It is most likely that the Turkish drilling rig will move west and south of Cyprus. Theoretically, this is a drill, so it should move somewhere where deposits have already been identified. We are talking about impressive movement. We estimate that it will not go to extremes, but on the other hand, its journey will not be completely painless since several Turkish government officials have given such great dimensions to the matter," pointed out the officials of the Ministry of the Interior.
At the same time, Greece has also mobilised the close alliances it has built in the region with Egypt and Israel, while it has duly informed both the United States and France about the Turkish movements, based on the relevant defence agreements Athens has concluded with Washington and Paris.
Right from the start, the Turkish drilling rig was under the microscope of Israeli and French satellites, which transmitted images and information to the Ministry of National Defence in real time.
In particular, Israel's contribution, not only at the level of information but also at the level of operations, is characterised as particularly important from the Greek side.
This is also confirmed by the permission granted by Greece to Israel to conduct military exercises from July 26 to August 5 in areas south of Crete, which coincide with the areas claimed in the illegal Turkish-Libyan memorandum.
Exercises which were seen as a message of questioning the non-existent Turkish claims on the Greek EEZ. At the same time, the joint exercises carried out by our country and with the forces of Egypt, the USA and France that are operating in the wider area of the South-Eastern Mediterranean are ongoing.
At the beginning of last week northwest of Crete, a Greek-American exercise took place with the participation of 2 F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft of the Air Force and 4 F-18 fighters belonging to the force of the USS HARRY S. TRUMAN Aircraft Carrier, which in recent years days sailing in the area.
At the same time, a week ago in the wider sea area southeast of Karpathos, 2 Greek F-16s carried out air defense scenarios, with the participation of the French Frigate FS PROVENCE.
NOTAM A1781/22 continues and remains in force, based on which the Greek authorities have committed from June 21 to September 7 five areas of the Aegean for Navy and Air Force exercises.