ANKARA, Turkey — Private Turkish shipyard Ares has begun mass production of a batch of 122 fast patrol boats for the country’s Coast Guard Command and the General Directorate of Security, the company announced.
This is Turkey’s largest-ever naval program in terms of the number of vessels, and it is part of a contract between Ares and Turkey’s defense procurement office, the Presidency of Defence Industries. The government agency, otherwise known as SSB, would not reveal the contract value, but industry sources estimate it is between $70 million and $80 million.
Of the batch of 122 vessels, Coast Guard Command will receive 105 Ares 35 fast boats, and the General Directorate of Security will receive 17.
SSB chief Ismail Demir previously said the small naval vessels will be used to regulate or counter illegal migration, smuggling and human trafficking, and support search and rescue as well as maritime security operations from Turkey’s eastern Black Sea coast to Hatay province in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey, which is home to more than 5 million refugees, is the main transit route for illegal immigration into the European Union, often through neighboring Greece. Turkey has a coastline along the Black, Aegean and Mediterranean seas that exceeds 8,000 kilometers (including islands).
The speed of the Ares 35 exceeds 35 knots and has a range of 160 nautical miles, according to the manufacturer. Earlier this year, Ares produced and delivered the first Ares 35, which will depart from Antalya for two months to take part in operations in the Black Sea. The Ares shipyard is based on the Mediterranean coast of Antalya.
Ares plans to complete deliveries in four years after delivering six boats every two months, Onur Yilmaz, project manager at Ares, told the official news agency Anadolu.
“All boats will have the same features, but there could be changes in case of additional feedback,” he said. “The boat was designed with a high operational capability on all the coastlines of Turkey, and will prove itself by performing tasks in shallow and even deep waters (over 3.2 feet).”
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.