Eight U.S. Navy Sailors got the opportunity to visit two Turkish navy ships while Turkish navy officers toured amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) during an exchange of personnel to increase knowledge and cooperation between naval forces throughout the region.
The Turkish navy ships, frigates TCG Gediz (F 495) and TCG Orucreis (F 245), are both part of the Barbaros Turkish Maritime Task Group (TMTG), which deployed in March on a tour around Africa for bilateral exercises, humanitarian efforts and anti-piracy efforts, which is a mission USS Mesa Verde currently shares in the region.
Along with the exchange of personnel for tours, the ships also completed a passing exercise, which is when ships move together in formation.
The deployment marks the first time in 148 years Turkey has circumnavigated the continent of Africa, previously done in 1866 by the Ottoman Empire.
Aboard Mesa Verde, nine Turkish navy officers experienced flight operations, small boat operations, a tour through ship’s museum and the bridge.
This interaction between the two countries navies built upon past experiences, including Exercise Obangame Express, a Gulf of Guinea-based multinational maritime exercise last held during April 2014, which was designed to improve cooperation, interdiction expertise and information sharing among West and Central African maritime forces in order to increase maritime safety and security in the region.
Mesa Verde is currently deployed as part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Press Release, July 09, 2014; Image: Wikimedia