The construction of the first six German-designed Reis-class submarines at the Gölcük Naval Shipyard is causing concern in Greece, according to a report by the Economist.
“The Piri Reis will join the fleet next year; five other Reis-class subs will follow in successive years. It is a triumph for Turkey’s navy – and a headache for Greece,” the Economist said in the report.
After taking up service, the new subs are expected to exacerbate instability in the eastern Mediterranean, the report adds, while also noting that the Hellenic Navy also has Reis-class submarines.
An important feature is the innovative propulsion system, which does not require air to run the diesel engine. This system enables the submarines to stay underwater for 20 days, compared to two to three days afforded by conventional diesel engines. At the same time, these submarines are virtually silent, unlike noisy nuclear submarines, whose reactors cannot be switched off.
The new submarines could be used by Turkey for espionage operations in Greek or Cypriot territorial waters, while they can also be equipped with missiles capable of destroying Greek anti-submarine infrastructure.
Many European countries blocked defence equipment sales to Turkey in 2019, in response to the entry of Turkish troops into Syria. Germany, however, intends to continue its submarine co-production program with Turkey. The program has set Ankara back $3.5 billion and is expected to significantly boost Germany’s state budget. Germany has been at the forefront of building advanced submarines, having sold more than 120 to 17 countries since the 1960s.
Germany’s stance on the issue has become a source of friction within the EU and NATO.
France, Greece and Cyprus want the EU and NATO to resist Turkish aggression, while Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain seek to avoid conflicts within the Alliance.
(This report was originally published in the Kathimerini newspaper and is reproduced by permission.)